Ben Ball

Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Ben is Senior Vice President for Dechert-Hampe where he specializes in Customer Development – implementing go-to-market strategies and tactics that build a stronger customer franchise and superior financial performance. As the lead on customer development for DHC, he works with companies such as Bayer Consumer Care, Con Agra, Hewlett-Packard Company, Sara Lee Food & Beverage, Time Warner, Pillsbury and the Mars, Inc. companies.

Ben is a frequently published author in the business press on the subjects of the Evolution of Retailing, Vendor/Distributor Relationships, Customer Relationship Management, Category Management and Trade Marketing. He has chaired numerous conferences on these subjects and is a featured speaker at major industry associations.

Prior to joining Dechert-Hampe in 1992, Ben was Marketing Vice President at PepsiCo Foods International. Other experience includes Marketing Vice President and Director of Field Marketing at Frito-Lay, Inc., group brand manager of new products at Mars, Incorporated, Snack-master Division, and Product Manager at General Mills, Inc.

He holds a Masters Degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dechert-Hampe & Company, a Sales and Marketing consulting firm, has offices located in Trumbull, Connecticut; Northbrook, Illinois; and Mission Viejo, California.

At Dechert-Hampe we like to say we are “Consumer Driven – Customer Focused”. We provide a range of services to clients, all focused on optimizing the customer interface with a consumer perspective in mind. These services include traditional Sales and Marketing consulting as well as a range of supporting services such as Organization Education and Development, Customer-facing Operations services and Communications.

Dechert-Hampe has been involved with Customer Development initiatives since the early ‘80’s, and for the past ten years Ben has concentrated on developing DHC’s capabilities in Marketing, Category Management, Trade Funds Management and Customer Relationship Management. DHC engagements in these areas encompass Grocery, General Merchandise, HBC, Dairy and Frozen Food clients in both the United States and Canada. These engagements have also touched a breadth of retail channels including Food, Drug, Mass Merchandisers, Office Supply, Consumer Electronics, Wholesale Clubs, Superstores, Specialty Outlets and the Military.

  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Kroger walks away from Raleigh-Durham

    Because Harris Teeter is the stronger banner in the market and has the best chance to compete successfully with a Publix/Wegmans challenge. In fragmented markets it is better to establish one strong horse than to compete with yourself.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2018

    Macy’s taps staff for their influencer clout

    This is absolutely the right way to go, with two important caveats. First, make sure the execution does not fall into traditional "advertising speak." It has to be an authentic person-to-person endorsement. Second, remember that ALL employees can access social media and be influencers of their own volition. And the people motivated to do so will often be ones with an ax of some sort to grind with the company. Actively managing your employee engagement to ensure positive online presence from ALL employees is critical. Several studies have shown rank and file employees to be much more influential in social media than corporate spokespeople.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2018

    Retailers ready to battle card companies over one-click payments

    Shopper convenience will eventually trump everything else. But at one level this is just a digital version of the "razor and blade" replenishment scheme. Visa and Mastercard are looking for a technological advantage to reclaim control of the payment processing transactions -- and fees.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Publix pulls political funding amid anti-gun protests

    Corporate political donations now carry the same risk as celebrity endorsements -- if you place your bets you take your chances. If some event occurs, whether the fault of the politician or the celebrity involved or not, the reputation of the donor can be tarnished among some portion of its patrons. Handling that from a public relations perspective has always been tricky business but it's pretty easy for everyone to get behind not liking a criminal or a pervert. With political issues that becomes doubly difficult because you won't have consensus -- some patrons will applaud your decision to continue or discontinue your support and others will vehemently disapprove. The company has to make a choice between the two.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2018

    Amazon bans chronic returners

    There will always be a small number who push the "long tail" of any group far to the right. Like a good statistician eliminates the "long tail" from the data set to get a more accurate result, so too must retailers eliminate this group of policy abusers. It won't hurt one bit.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    Will store-within-a-store concepts make Hy-Vee’s more attractive destinations?

    The mention of Schnucks and Volpi Foods struck me as central to the store-within-a-store theme. By featuring Basin, Hy-Vee is introducing a brand and products only tangential to grocery. By featuring Volpi, Schnucks is introducing a super-premium brand of a core offering in meat. Which is the better strategy? The argument for less competitive/more incremental goes to Hy-Vee and Basin. But the argument for relevance and core market served has to go to Schnucks and Volpi. I'd love to see the results comparing store traffic (probably not much increase for either approach), gross sales and net incremental sales and profit for each concept! Which would you bet on? My bet is on Hy-Vee and Basin -- for the first three to six months. At the end of Year One I'm going with Schnucks and Volpi.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2018

    Is an on-demand workforce heading to retail’s selling floors?

    Joanna, please do not be discouraged by the number of "red thumbs" on your comments today. Remember that those red thumbs do not mean that you are wrong -- only that a majority of the members of our community are working with a different paradigm. And that's what we all do, apply our own paradigms to the discussions posed here. Can't call that a bad thing either, because it is quite literally the only way we humans are capable of behaving. So keep slinging your own thoughts. We benefit by hearing from all quarters.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2018

    Is an on-demand workforce heading to retail’s selling floors?

    There may be a silver lining in this trend for people who want to work but have significant restrictions on when and where they can. One of the reasons for the low unemployment rate is that U.S. labor participation rates overall are also at historic lows. Some portion of that idle labor pool is comprised of people who would like to work but need significant flexibility to call their own schedules. Maybe this will give them that opportunity. From the employer's perspective, this model has worked for agricultural and construction jobs for years. Day laborers are common, competent and relatively effective. So there is a place for this model. But I still think it is sub-optimal for retailers versus having a pool of trained full and part-time workers to meet all their scheduling needs.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Etsy succeeds with its Amazon-opposite approach

    Etsy is Amazon proof in much the same way that the Grove Park Artisan's Arcade in Asheville, NC is insulated from the local Walmart. Mr. Silverman's comment that "if you can buy 1,000 of anything, it doesn't belong on Etsy" sums up the strategy perfectly. Now, if Etsy can just stick to their knitting....
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Consumers get the smart home experience at Amazon open houses

    This is a great move for both Amazon and Lennar. The biggest barrier to home automation is comfort levels with the technology. This partnership does two things: demonstrate the technology in a very approachable way and show home buyers that it is not just for "high-end homes." Seamlessly integrating smart home devices into the home buying/building experience will accelerate adoption of the technology in much the same way other innovations took hold. Think prewired telephone jacks, then air conditioning, cable connections, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc. We are going to see a dramatic acceleration of smart home technology over the next five years, and it will become a "standard feature" of new home construction in ten years.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    When Harry’s met Target and then Walmart

    The lure of a huge short-term volume hit mortally (I predict) wounds another brand. Harry's is in the process of going from an "it brand" for Millennials to another run of the mill price brand available everywhere. Better to tie themselves to their online "ship's mast" like Odysseus and avoid the siren's song of mass distribution.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    Walmart associates check out customers on the floor in pilot program

    The first thing that struck me about Walmart's application for the program is the department chosen -- Lawn and Garden. This is an area with big bulky items, often merchandised outdoors and loaded directly into trunks or truck beds, and one that is often devoid of checkouts. Walmart solves all those problems by having the associates in the department check you out. No need to set up a separate checkout. No need to lock an associate to that checkout when there are no customers present. And no waiting for someone to finally get there or, worse yet, having to wheel your flatbed of mulch into the store to check out. The home run here is the matching the application to the location and customer need.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Can retailers appeal to both ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ shoppers?

    This is a critical aspect of retailing to understand. For one thing, I would love to see the demographic breakdown of "fast" and "slow" shoppers. I wonder if the old saw that "men buy and women shop" actually holds up? I doubt it, as I have always believed the idea of "fast" and "slow" shopping are much more category specific -- though there is probably some category/gender segmentation involved. I am certainly more inclined to linger and explore in certain sporting goods stores and auto dealerships, but I am in and out of a shoe store in a flash. I also wonder how these delineations would compare to studies separating "high touch" or high involvement purchases such as electronics from "low touch" categories like groceries. Only old brand managers reliving their youth linger over grocery store shelves!
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Walgreens tests lower prices, membership savings

    The drug channel's foray into c-store-like front-ends has not been the success most of us imagined it would. At one time I thought Walgreens had the lead in the drug chain race because of its more aggressive approach to the front-end. But high prices and the need to preserve margin got in the way, even as c-stores made a strategic pivot to prepared food. Now it seems CVS has staked out a higher ground as the health and wellness store. As for Walgreens' test, reducing SKUs to improve navigability sounds right. And so does lower prices. But the $20 membership fee hits a sour note. While we readily pay Costco and Prime for access to low prices and incremental benefits, that was their starting position. This move by Walgreens just feels like "OK, my prices are too high -- so pay me $20 up front and I'll lower them back to what they should be for you."
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Kellogg’s advises CPGs to differentiate online

    There's certainly nothing to argue with in Chris Perry's assertions -- and his cautions. Anything short of a truly unique value proposition will never get noticed, nor will consumers make the effort to go past their traditional online shopping portal to get to you. But this has always been true, even in the traditional channels. Who would drive past Walmart to get to the "corn flakes store"? The good news about digital is that it makes the kind of truly unique propositions required (such as customized granola offerings) that are often by definition smaller scale businesses financially viable. You can afford to have a custom granola site. I doubt you could afford to have a national chain of custom granola stores. That's the beauty of e-commerce.

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