Dr. Stephen Needel

Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations

Dr. Stephen Needel is Managing Partner of Advanced Simulations, based in Woodstock, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He formed and now manages an international company responsible for bringing virtual reality simulations to bear on retailing, marketing, and consumption issues from a research perspective.

Prior to starting ASL, Dr. Needel was President of Simulation Research, where he brought the concept of using virtual reality technology to the everyday marketing research world. Dr. Needel held the position of Vice President for Product Development at A.C. Nielsen, where he developed new techniques for integrating and analyzing retail scanner data and household purchasing data. He has also been a Vice President of Analytical Services at Nielsen after coming from their competitor, Information Resources, where he led a team doing advanced analytical research from IRI’s BehaviorScan market testing system. Earlier jobs included analytical roles at Burke Marketing Research and Quaker Oats.

Originally a native of the Boston, Dr. Needel came to the business community with a B. A. in Psychology from The American University and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the American Marketing Association.

His international experience dovetails nicely with his appreciation of English beers, South American beef, Australian football, and Mexican chiles. He hopes to pass on these fondnesses to his two sons.

  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    Where are curbside and BOPIS services falling short?

    My biggest issue is out-of-stocks, which we've experienced enough times that we've stopped using BOPIS. If I have to go into the store every time or to a different store every time to fill out my shopping list, BOPIS is not saving me much time.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    Gene - I used to make my living analyzing household panel data for Burke, IRI, and Nielsen. You'd be amazed at how much effort panelists would put into it and how well their data matched actual store sales. I was always amazed and I was selling analytics on this.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    From a researcher's perspective, this significantly ups the value of Amazon's data. It's one thing to say, here's what our shoppers do, but another to say, here's what our shoppers do and what happens when they go elsewhere. You can make a lot of improvements knowing where and what they're buying when they're not buying from you.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Should Yelp be calling out businesses accused of racist behavior?

    I get the idea - I'm concerned about abuse. Someone doesn't like a business, makes accusations, that becomes a viral thing, and there you go -- often with no truth to the accusation.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    NYC startup promises 15-minute grocery delivery

    Color me skeptical about if a.) they can do it in 15 minutes and b.) they can make money doing it.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Walmart reimagines its supercenters

    Better/clearer signage is always a good idea. But before we go crazy praising Walmart, let's think a moment about how hard it is to find stuff there - not hard at all.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Will same-day deliveries be a difference maker for Bed Bath & Beyond?

    Do we really need same-day from Bed Bath & Beyond? I agree with the above - they are catching up but they just as easily could have not done this.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2020

    Can retailers drive climate change action?

    These commitments are a marketing opportunity, but hopefully not cynical ones. I believe the companies will work towards those goals but, let's face it, nobody actually knows how to do it or do it and make money at it. Meanwhile, while they work towards being carbon neutral, the marketing will get others at least thinking about the problem and that's a good side benefit.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2020

    Will curbside pickup be Costco’s Achilles heel?

    Costco has a business model that works and, more importantly, products their regular customers want (i.e. Kirkland). I'm sure there are some people who are not going into Costco right now. Will that change in the (hopefully near) future? Sure, and we'll all get our $1.50 hot dogs again and all will be right with the world. If their P/L calculations say it's not a big issue among their shoppers, they shouldn't do it anyways.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s continue thriving without delivery and curbside pickup?

    Absolutely not. It's not broken. Don't try to fix it. Trader Joe's relies on its loyal customer base, which doesn't seem to have disappeared. Don't mess with success.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Are older shoppers wiser amid the pandemic?

    It may be that we Boomers just killed off more brain cells in days past than the younger generation - we may not have the capacity to worry as much anymore :). And yes, Toni and I are much mellower about this than my Millennial kid and nephews. But then, we can afford better bourbon too. Tough to tease this apart.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Have multiple rounds of price cuts changed Whole Foods’ high price image?

    I just got back from shopping at Whole Foods yesterday. Yes, they have lots of 365 brand products at reasonable prices. But I don't think that's why people shop there. Meat, fish, and produce prices are still very high, even with my Amazon Prime discount. Don't buy the price cutting hype.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Online to make up 21.5 percent of grocery’s sales in five years

    First, consider that we've been forecasting 15 percent of grocery sales done online for a good 20 years - we just keep on moving out the timeline. So I'm skeptical about the 21.5 percent. Remember that forecasting is hard, especially when it involves the future (to paraphrase Neils Bohr). Given lots of people are going to be omnichannel themselves, it's probably not good to give primacy to any one shopping mode.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2020

    How can grocers help ease home cooking fatigue?

    Two thoughts - I've always been down on meal kits as an expensive alternative to making a meal yourself. Perhaps it's time for meal kits or partial kits (i.e., you add the protein) to push harder. Also, what's wrong with taking some of your ad space, retailers, and printing weekly menu ideas (or daily ideas)? Keep it simple, keep it inexpensive, but with lots of variety. Don't appear to be appealing to overly healthy alternatives - you'll turn people off (but don't promote junk either).
  • Posted on: 09/11/2020

    Target touts diversity gains, pledges to hire more Black employees

    Steve - the article above says 24 percent/42 percent, which is where I'm generating the question - if I force the mix to say 30 percent/50 percent non-white/female, how much is that going to change the operation of the company?

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