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: 12/11/2019

    Will Google take ‘going local’ to another level?

    Without question. Consumer's fear of "geo-tracking" has been overcome by the realization that it is happening via so many GPS enabled devices ( phone, car, smartwatch, fitness tracker...) that resistance is futile, so they might as well enjoy the benefits of the technology.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2019

    Do independent liquor stores need a rehab?

    This is only going to get tougher for independents as relaxed liquor distribution restrictions spread across the states. Control of tax revenue will shield them somewhat, though this is most prevalent in states that restrict liquor distribution to state-owned stores. The obvious beneficiaries of these trends are the chains like Total Wine that can leverage volume buying. Total Wine recently moved to our mid-sized urban market and I've had a few local bottle shops tell me they are being "Walmart-ed". That's true to an extent -- but Total Wine is also providing a better overall experience. Besides huge selection and good price, they offer weekly classes in a dedicated event room that feature multiple tastings of a liquor or regional product. There is usually five or six sampling stations in the store on the weekend. The retail associates on the floor specialize in a segment and are quite knowledgeable overall. And the customer service comes as close to matching my local bottle shop as a chain can. Short of the very high end wine shops Zel mentions in markets like NYC, independents' best defenses will be proximity and convenience if they are lucky enough to have that, maintaining competitive selection and pricing if they can afford it and a dedication to individualized customer service. Know that I am always interested in good single barrel anejo tequila when I walk in the door!
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?

    Will Boomers be allowed to protest that they feel marginalized and threatened by it, lobbying retailers to remove the merchandise from the shelves? If so, then I'm fine with it.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Did social media spook Party City’s Halloween sales?

    Halloween is the only holiday where the people are the event. The level of family involvement and creativity I saw this year was impressive. Thanksgiving is all about food and family, Christmas and Easter are either religious, Santas and bunnies or both. As for whether DIY is a positive for Halloween sales, I think it will be impossible to know unless you limit the category definition to things purchased in Halloween stores or sales. How do you recognize a Walmart sheet that masquerades as a ghost in your syndicated data?
  • Posted on: 11/07/2019

    Can J.C. Penney reinvent itself with its offbeat lab store?

    Kudos for the aggressive approach to reinvention -- but the biggest problem J.C. Penney faces is the base store. Offering a flock of attractive services in one location probably has some appeal, particularly in an upscale market like the one in Dallas. But throwing any one of these innovations into a traditional J.C. Penney store in Paducah will stick out like a sore thumb and fail.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Amazon makes its social positions public

    So, in short, you are saying this is a bad idea?
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Amazon makes its social positions public

    Reading the commentary, it occurred to me that our sentiments as a whole sound much like those expressed a few years back about Walmart. Doug McMillon seems to be changing some of those less favorable opinions with a combination of well publicized action. Perhaps Amazon can/will do the same.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Will becoming a UPS pickup/drop off point drive craft sales at Michaels?

    Handling UPS/FedEx packages is rapidly on its way to becoming part of the base-level services retailers have to offer. Unless the shipping companies voluntarily limit the number of retailers they accept into their program within a geography, the differentiation of offering one of the services for a retailer will rapidly disappear. And I can't think of a reason for the shipping companies to do that. I wonder what this will do to The UPS Store franchise however.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    REI opens outdoor adventure gateway concept

    Did you ever rent skis at a ski resort? Or golf clubs at a course while away from home? If those skis or clubs were relatively new versions of the manufacturer's top of the line, there's a good chance you found you liked them better than your current equipment. Or if you didn't already own equipment, the experience may have influenced your purchase decision later. I know I wound up shipping home new equipment from the pro shop more than once myself. REI is putting their merchandise in the same position and adding experts to teach you how to use it to boot. A very, very smart move.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2019

    Walmart sells ModCloth, seeks Jetblack spinoff and cuts Bonobos jobs

    First of all, props to Walmart for pushing the digital envelope in their exploration of the e-world. As usual, they were not afraid to try and fail. Now e-commerce at Walmart is settling down into the role it was destined to play -- an online adjunct to the stores. I suspect many retailers will settle in the same place. A security professional once told me that "locks and gates don't stop thieves -- they are just to help honest people stay honest." For most retailers, e-commerce will not be to challenge Amazon, but merely to keep them away from the back door.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Do retail metrics need to be reinvented?

    Any or all of the metrics Deloitte suggests can be relevant measures of retailer success -- though RIC and FCF are more geared to investors than to success in capturing the wallets and minds of consumers. The tougher question is, how do you break down these broad, holistic measures into actionable measures that direct the efforts of individual line managers? For example, sales per unique customer (share of wallet) is an output of the individual efforts of every channel the retailer uses to reach consumers. Does the line executive in charge of online shopping get a bonus if that measure meets targets -- even if the online business is losing share to other online competitors in the same category? Get the executional measures aligned and the holistic metrics will follow.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2019

    Will consumers go for Kroger’s food hall concept?

    If Mariano's and Eataly were married, this is what you'd get. And it's a beautiful child. The minute Mariano's food court appeared in our semi-dense with professional buildings suburb of Chicago, it was packed. The fresh food quality, variety and convenience of dine-in or take-out was exactly what the local business population wanted. But it was strictly a business hours business. Evening traffic was nil. The addition of multiple dining choices and popular local restaurants to the Kroger concept will only make this iteration more attractive. Depending on the density of nearby urban housing, it may even solve the dinner traffic problem. Great idea.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    Will Walmart have more success creating consumer direct brands than acquiring them?

    Walmart should do the same thing with their brands that they did with their supply chain -- consolidate everything and focus on building one strong brand across all channels. I don't get the recent infatuation with "digitally native brands." Marc Lore hails from the digital world so his categorization of brands is understandable I guess. But it's almost as if we believe a brand is somehow fundamentally different if it is initially distributed digitally versus in physical stores. It is not. A brand is a brand -- not a distribution system. Either it has unique attributes and utility that are meaningful to a group of consumers or it doesn't.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2019

    Lord & Taylor to be sold to Le Tote

    Lord & Taylor's remaining brand equity is in fashion. Le Tote can port that equity easily enough with an eventual "L&T" combined brand. In the meantime, Le Tote can use the remaining Lord & Taylor stores to experiment with a host of storefront options including pickup and showrooming for in-store or online ordering and rental. At this price, it is much cheaper than greenfield exploration of physical stores for Le Tote -- and they get a fashion brand to boot. Great deal -- for Le Tote.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Innovation: Are retailers trying to do too much?

    The commentators before me make the pertinent point well -- Yes! But here's the thing -- this is a battle against organizational momentum and the pace of business as much as anything else. I grew up in the brand management world and the Holy Grail was "new products." So much so that we regularly launched mundane line extensions to satisfy the clamor from retailers, our own sales team and senior management for "something new and exciting!" Later as a senior manager and then consultant I regularly railed against the wasted energy and investment in chasing meaningless change for change's sake. I was so successful in my crusade that the entire industry has stopped talking about "new product introductions" -- now they call it "innovation." Good grief, Charlie Brown! So why should we expect retailers to be any different? There is an undeniable inertia driving the quest for innovation -- whether what we are doing is truly innovative or actually meaningful is completely lost in the frenzy.

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