Dr. Stephen Needel

Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations

Dr. Stephen Needel is Managing Partner of Advanced Simulations, based in 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 as well as being an adjunct faculty member at the University of Connecticut.

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.

His international experience dovetails nicely with his appreciation of English beers, South American beef, Australian football, and Mexican chilies. He’s proud to have passed on this set arcane tastes to his son.

  • Posted on: 01/30/2023

    How much say should retailers have over an associate’s appearance?

    Nice way to start a Monday! :) Yes, I see a reason for the policy, but yes, there is plenty of room for interpretation here. I would like to think the intent of the smile is what customers pick up on, not the quality of the teeth in the smile. I think managers should focus more on the behavior of the employee and observe the customers' reactions before taking any action.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2023

    Will consumer anger drive down inflation?

    No -- consumer resistance is a small factor driving down inflation. But as others have said, it's a big factor in brand switching and store switching and we're going to keep seeing that until manufacturers and retailers drop their prices. Retailers have a simple answer for vendors who are taking their prices up just because they can -- delist!
  • Posted on: 01/24/2023

    Can opera keep loiterers away from store parking lots?

    You would have thought Black Sabbath, Bob, wouldn't you? :)
  • Posted on: 01/20/2023

    Will Lowe’s become birthday party central for kids?

    I'm pretty sure power tools are not on the agenda -- think of the insurance liability!
  • Posted on: 01/20/2023

    Will Lowe’s become birthday party central for kids?

    I feel like I'm back in junior high taking shop. Do kids honestly think this is cool? There's got to be better places to have a party.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2023

    Are CVS and Walgreens prepared to be at the center of the abortion debate?

    Most Americans (according to the polls) are in favor of abortion rights, so not only should CVS and Walgreens, with their health positioning, be pursuing this, we might ask where are Kroger and Walmart?
  • Posted on: 01/19/2023

    Retailers should be prepping now for economic recovery

    All the research I've ever seen says that companies who prep for post-recession times, redoing their marketing research, their advertising and promotions, and maybe refreshing stores, benefit when a recession ends -- making back what they spent.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2023

    Are retail communications out of sync with consumers?

    We (the BrainTrust) have been saying this for years -- way too frequent communications from retailers. [Most] people have other things to do with their lives than shopping -- retailers need to get that.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2023

    Is culture the key to Target’s success?

    Culture is only important in so far as it positively affects customer experience -- unhappy employees will lead to poorer customer interaction. Target may think they are great at this -- not so much, at least here in Atlanta. Not bad, but nothing special either.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2023

    Are ‘price frictions’ undercutting product sales?

    Pricing might be the least understood and most poorly utilized tool in the marketing and retailing toolbox. Myths abound and very few manufacturers or retailers want to test the implications of different prices; I believe manufacturers should be much more proactive here. In our research, we've often found that shoppers are less price sensitive than expected, especially for brands with good equity. Indeed, some marketing experts measure brand equity as the ability to withstand higher prices. Be flexible, be willing to experiment.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2023

    Do drinking and shopping mix?

    If it's true that there is not an increase in crime or traffic accidents (drunk driving) then fine -- if it keeps people there longer AND spending more money, I'm fine with it. That said, I can go a couple of hours without a drink.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2022

    The winner of the 2022 RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge is…

    As usual, so many good ads. Publix has always made great holiday ads and this is no exception -- warm, emotional, and hinting that you can get all the food items you need there. Walmart comes in at a close second for me -- selling without overdoing it.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2022

    Should Barnes & Noble shift back to store-expansion mode?

    The perfect idea as we head into a potential recession! Really? I get that people may be reading more, but I'm betting on e-books rather than paper (and it pains me to say that).
  • Posted on: 12/22/2022

    SPAR Ireland is all about ‘finding Christmas’ and Walmart looks at ‘all the ways we holiday’

    I usually like the SPAR ads but this year left me - meh. Didn't feel the usual heartstring tug. Walmart gives us the slice of holiday life that retailers have come to embrace, but not too schmaltzy and they get their ad in too. I think Walmart connects better than SPAR.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2022

    Would Kroger’s smart apron calm your holiday cooking anxieties?

    We used to use bourbon for the same purpose. Honestly, wouldn't you be worried if someone was wearing this and they were in charge of cooking your meal?

Contact Dr. Stephen


  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.