PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 08/22/2019

    Will shoppers thank heaven for mobile checkout at 7-Eleven?

    Consumers define convenience as proximity and speed. Mobile checkout will increase speed -- but only if the wait time to reach a cashier decreases noticeably will it matter.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2019

    Is technology really making stores more like the web?

    Retailers who are doing this right conflate the two concepts offered in the article -- they use technology to make the human experience in the store more enjoyable. Case in point -- my local Home Depot. Last weekend I was in the store looking for an item I normally don't buy. Not sure where to look, I asked the first associate I came upon where I might find it. It took him less than 15 seconds to find it on his mobile device and direct me to the correct aisle. I was in and out of the quintessential big box store in less than five minutes total having purchased an item I had no idea where to look for going in. That's what retailers should be doing with technology.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2019

    Does a new product donation program for marketplace sellers make Amazon the good guy?

    If there had been a RetailWire in 1999, we would have been having the same discussion about Walmart. I can almost hear the echo of the hue and cry of now... "We love your prices! We love your service!" "We want you to be successful! We want you to be successful" "Oh, wait a minute. You have become very successful -- in fact, you have become TOO successful! We want you to share the wealth!" And pundits and politicians feed on the need to stigmatize "greed." Marketers learned long ago that the only vote that really matters is the one consumers make with their wallet. The public loves the experience Amazon provides. We also love to vilify extreme success. Should Amazon be a responsible corporate citizen, avoiding waste and showing compassion for the community and their employees wherever possible? Of course they should! Will that regain the public's public love? Of course not. Just ask Walmart.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Have emojis become digital’s ice breaker for consumers?

    The weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal had a great article about the difficulty of expressing irony in digital communication, a subject with which I am all too familiar as irony, satire and colloquialism are personal favorites and I have learned the hard way that it is very easy to be misunderstood. Emojis give the visual option of inserting those nuances into digital communication without risking recreating your verbal/visual communication style in writing. Emojis give the added benefit of some standardization of expression as well. My biggest problem is that there are so darned many emojis to pick from now that I'm never sure I'm using the right one once I get past the ubiquitous smiley face!
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Is Nike’s new subscription program for kids a parent’s best friend?

    I don't know if it will be successful, but it is a brilliant marketing move to truly lock consumers into Nike from cradle to grave -- or at least until the parents stop paying the bills. Subscriptions sound great until you figure out you aren't using the product at the rate you thought you would and packages start piling up. That may be the foible of this service as well, as I tend to think of sneakers as being more durable than four to twelve pairs a year -- even for fast growing kids.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Will the next big thing since Starbucks be run by robots?

    This is absolutely a thing. A related experience with a client showed consumers quite willing to get their favorite drink from a robot barista. The keys to customer satisfaction are consistency and freshness. As long as the system begins with high quality ingredients (and fresh ground beans allows the machines to fit that bill) the consistency and freshness become a given. This is a winner.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    Can an e-tail startup establish a physical presence using hi-tech vending units?

    The U.S. has lagged much of the world in automated merchandising for many years. It is mainly a matter of getting shoppers acclimated to an experience that goes beyond single serve drinks and snacks. There are some category characteristics that make some more suitable than others. Socks will work better than chandeliers for obvious reasons. But beyond the physical, reasons focus on comfort involvement in the category first and familiarity with the brand being purchased second. Companies like Redbox had both physical advantages (compact size and durability of DVDs) and customer familiarity (Die Hard II is Die Hard II -- period) on their side.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2019

    Will outsourcing jobs help Lowe’s associates better serve customers in stores?

    It's unlikely this is anything beyond a cost reduction move. Of course, it could result in more associate floor time, though I doubt it. But I'm already seeing more associates on the floor in my weekly Lowe's visits. The bigger thing Lowe's needs is more store traffic.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    The clock is ticking for J.C. Penney

    Only if J.C. Penney completely commits to a single focus positioning -- home goods, clothing, just pick one and do it better than anyone else. Otherwise J.C. Penney is going to be swept away by the fundamental shift in retail taking place today. The return of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker is here with a vengeance (i.e. specialty shops.) Lifestyle focused big-box retailers are thriving (REI, Cabela's, Home Depot, etc.) The rest of shopping splits between those who do it online and those who do it in physical discounters (Walmart, Target). All else are doomed. Pick a lane folks!
  • Posted on: 07/26/2019

    Your company has a vision: Why can’t everyone see it?

    1. Do not use any word with more than 10 letters. This is not because your employees are stupid. It is because it forces you to be clear and precise in your language. It is pretty hard to be confusing using 10 letter words. And arguments that your vision is too complex to be described without more erudite language simply proves my point.
    2. Be specific. That doesn't have to mean be numeric -- but that helps.
    I have always thought the Walmart mission statement was classic for being simple, clear and meaningful.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2019

    Has Amazon ‘destroyed the retail industry’ in the U.S.?

    Steve Mnuchin is a good Treasury Secretary, but sitting on the board of Sears Holdings hardly qualifies him as a "retailer." The U.S.retail industry is hardly "destroyed." Bombastic statements that are blatantly false are supposed to be the purview of advertisers as "puffery" -- but they have no place in policy making. At least that has typically been limited to politicians. Now they have spilled over into justice and fiscal policy. As for Amazon deserving antitrust scrutiny, one of the conditions for antitrust violations is whether consumers are being harmed. This justice department seems to be doing gymnastics worthy of a Cirque show to get around that with Amazon.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2019

    Will cloud-based services elevate Starbucks beyond coffee retailing?

    Starbucks is already more than a coffee company. The brand is a lifestyle statement. Millennials didn't flock to Starbucks to drink coffee, they went there to be cool. The cup itself is a badge and a social statement. It says "this is who I am" and differentiates Millennials (and all who want to be viewed as progressive and cool) from Luddite geezers like me who still prefer Dunkin' coffee and don't mind being seen with the cup.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    And I can't wait for the day my friend! This from the man whose favorite saying is: "I have time for neither man, beast nor machine who isn't intelligent enough to do what I was thinking, as opposed to what I actually said." Now, I can think of some issues with that -- but...
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    I hear you on the voice recognition, Georganne. Try it with a southern accent! :-) Kidding aside, we really don't have too much trouble with that. What limits Alexa now isn't her "understanding" I don't think. Rather, it is that Alexa is not Google -- and that's what we have become accustomed to. They tap into two very different databases (Google's being infinitely more extensive obviously) and Alexa doesn't answer questions much beyond "what's my notification?" at the moment. But that is getting better. What Alexa can do is take your instruction quite well. I like that part!
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    I am never entrusted with chores of that magnitude -- no matter who's calling! ;-)

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