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: 04/12/2018

    No site comes close to Amazon for Gen Z

    Experiential purchases aimed at self-actualization go with them -- routine reorders get left to Alexa.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2018

    Will Amazon or Walmart win the clash of the retail titans?

    This battle may well hinge on how future shoppers wind up defining "availability." If "available for delivery to (or in) my home" wins that battle, Amazon wins. If "there for me to stop by and pick up at my convenience" (call it immediacy) wins -- then Walmart stays in the retail driver's seat. Since that decision will probably be category specific -- at least for a while -- and since grocery is the largest retail category and probably the last to cross the "availability divide" -- then I agree with the webinar viewers that Walmart has a slight edge. But don't count on that lasting forever.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2018

    Should retailers lower expectations around last-mile delivery?

    Fast won't be as important as free in most instances -- but "free" will be a must. Consumers now view shipping charges with almost the same disdain as those obnoxious "just pay shipping and handling" TV ads. For a consumer to accept traditional shipping methods the product will have to be a.) something I really want or need, and b.) something for which there is no acceptable substitute available on Amazon.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2018

    Are Aldi’s upscale makeovers necessary?

    To achieve the rank of third largest U.S. grocer this is probably the right move -- but the risk of rejection by shoppers who viewed Aldi as a "smart shop" is high. I got acquainted with hard discounters in Australasia, Canada and Europe many years ago. Their fundamental appeal is price and they worked hard to keep everything in the store looking like they were focused on price (i.e. ugly!) It worked. And deviations were seldom rewarded with an influx of shoppers from Coles, Loblaws or Tesco.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2018

    Walgreens focuses on healthcare services in new store format

    The drugstore space is doing the right thing by focusing on the full range of non-MD provided healthcare services. The customer is already in their stores, the need is there and the margins are there. The drugstore channel's foray into "convenience store land" with their front-ends did not end well for them. Sales and foot traffic increased but margins took far too big a hit to make the model pay out. Consumers just weren't as willing to pay a premium for convenient fill-in grocery purchases as originally expected. The fact that drugstores are generally in close proximity to grocery probably didn't help any. In contrast, dollar stores made more of a commitment to "limited assortment full grocery" and focused on low price. That and the dollar channel focus on under-served markets has worked considerably better.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2018

    Former Walmart U.S. CEO raises prospect of breaking up Amazon

    I believe the ultimate standard for government intervention in commerce should be whether or not a company's behavior is harming consumers. I don't believe we have seen any evidence of that from Amazon. As far as predatory pricing and unfair competition go, where's the evidence? Is there proof anywhere that Amazon is losing money on its retail business? I have seen plenty of "it's impossible for them to deliver goods at those prices!" rants in business forums -- but no evidence to back that up other than "we couldn't do that and make money so there's no way Amazon can either." It wasn't all that long ago that this discussion could have featured Walmart complaining to HBC suppliers that "there's no way Walgreens can run BOGOs on your product every month unless you're funding it!" But those suppliers knew that Walgreens was simply applying their total pool of funds and their margin to frustrate Walmart's EDLP advantage on key SKUs. (And I believe Mr. Simon might have been at the helm part of that time.) Leave Amazon alone. They are good for consumers and good for business.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2018

    Has Facebook become toxic for advertisers?

    The business model is only in danger from overzealous regulation -- not a defection by users or advertisers. What Cambridge Analytica is accused of is unscrupulous at best, but hardly unique in the world of campaign tactics and strategy. And the social protests from both users and advertisers are certainly justified, but they will not be long-lived nor result in significant damage to the Facebook digital model. Elected officials, on the other hand, have two motivations to regulate digital data access. The first is to grandstand for their constituents -- typical for social issues of most every ilk. The second is to reduce their own vulnerability and costs in pursuing perpetual reelection. If legislators can effectively cut off access to digital data for campaign purposes they will have effectively shut the door on the most cost-efficient method of campaigning for challengers who are typically not as well-funded as incumbents. That's what concerns me about this.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2018

    IKEA asks, will virtual inventory be key to the new urban showroom?

    This makes a ton of sense for IKEA. Most of their more complex furniture offerings are just variations on a theme anyway. Which combination of puzzle parts will best fit my wall space? As long as there is one example to examine physically for assembly process and finished look, this is just as functional as five different configurations in a display setting.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2018

    IKEA offers sanity-saving furniture assembly solution

    While I like the idea, I wonder how long it will take consumers to start adding the price of the TaskRabbit service to the IKEA piece and comparing it to similar items at discount furniture stores? The appeal of IKEA styling and the initial low price may overcome this initially, but I would be very curious to know the repeat on this combination.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2018

    What does Ring mean for Amazon?

    Chris hits it on the head -- this will be a tremendous boon to the secure home delivery aspect of Amazon Key. Consumer confidence will go up considerably with the ability to visually identify the Key delivery person. Add the ability to capture a digital image of the delivery person in case your TV is missing when you get home and the psychological comfort of a strong deterrent to mischief could be enough to put many consumers over the edge for Key. Amazon may make a push into home security as well, given the logical extension of the consumer's willingness to trust the system to let someone into their home. But the focus here has to be on the core business.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2018

    Home Depot commits $50M to create trade jobs and secure its future

    Training for the trades has gone by the wayside in our "everybody has to go to college" public education system. But historically, that's not so unusual. Education systems have traditionally served the purpose of the liberal arts and historians -- the "thinkers" of society if you will. It is only in modern history that we added the responsibility for basic education for all to their role. But the job of actually training someone for a job other than teaching has traditionally fallen to "trade schools" or the trades themselves. At the extreme example you find medicine. Sure, you have to make it to med school, but anyone with an M.D. will tell you that the real learning starts in residency and beyond, certainly for the specialists. For the trades, that fell to proprietors and master tradesmen in the old days and then it somehow morphed into a part of secondary education -- particularly in rural school systems. And many of those programs did and do a fine job. But they are fading in availability and influence. It's time for the trades to step back in and do their own thing. Lowe's and Home Depot are very smart to join the various unions and guilds who offer training and certification. We need to nurture and value these skilled tradespeople the same way we are realizing we need to nurture and value our primary and secondary educators.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2018

    Will steel and aluminum tariffs hurt American retailers?

    Agree Kai. This episode will end up better billed as "threat of tariff" than "tragedy of tariff."
  • Posted on: 03/12/2018

    Amazon shifts to a subscription model for Prime Pantry

    I'm just guessing here, but this seems like a logical extension of the Prime logic. In other words, once the flat fee for shipping for the month (or year) is paid, the "shipping cost" barrier to ordering is removed. Consumers have a way of translating sunk costs as "it's paid for -- let's use it!" Customers then feel much more flexibility to order that $2.99 item on Prime instead of going to Lowe's, and they should feel that same flexibility with ordering household items. The $40 threshold shouldn't be much of a barrier in this case either. Of course, more orders per month does increase Amazon's gross dollar outlay for shipping per customer so I'm not quite sure how that math will work.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2018

    Why does Lowe’s seem to have a problem turning shoppers into customers?

    I'm a bit surprised by the comment that most of the items people did buy were low-margin, big-ticket items like lumber and washing machines. It seems counter-intuitive that more traffic and lower dollars are driven by high-ring items. Unless everyone else is buying nothing? It seems more likely to me that Lowe's efforts to drive traffic are bringing shoppers in who aren't typical DIYers. Likely their purchases tend more toward low-ticket items like cleaning supplies and household needs. That would be a logical result of Lowe's strategy, much the same as adding food and beverage changed the nature of drug store front-end sales and dollar store mix. Both hurt margins and lowered average ring.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2018

    Music stores play the blues as consumers play on(line)

    Having just spent a weekend hanging around downtown Nashville, it is hard to believe half the people in America don't walk around with a guitar on their back! But the son of a friend who is trying to "make it in Nashville" also works in a guitar store. And it is not in the best part of town. But that's not so much the issue. The issue is that the store is just darned intimidating for anyone who isn't a "picker" (Nashville slang for someone who can really play). I would have loved to pick up some of those classic Gibsons and give them a strum, but there was no way I would do it in that atmosphere. Mr. Juszkiezwicz is correct. Music stores need to invite wannabe's in and make them welcome -- not intimidate them from touching the merchandise.

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