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: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    Maybe the best one-liner you've written, Cathy.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    If cases are rising or continuing in your area, it's still time to wear face masks. A store requiring shoppers to wear face masks is protecting other shoppers, not necessarily the person wearing the mask. It's not hard and if you live in a place where they think masks are causing physical damage, but you're reading this, it's time for you to move to a smarter area.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    It's all about the optics and very few will really care what you, the retailer, are doing. Those who care deeply are also likely to be those who are going to be skeptical of whatever you tell them or show them. Keep it simple - do at least what corporate says to do. If someone asks what that is, have a handout showing what that is. And then focus on business.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Will dollar stores be the biggest post-COVID-19 winners?

    It's dollar stores' to screw up - you got people to come because you had stuff and you had stuff cheap. Don't mess with the format and keep on trying to retain the new people you brought in.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    I get it for employees. For customers, only if they ask for it. If I'm forced to do it my mask and I are going somewhere else.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    What will Applebee’s and Boston Market learn from their virtual restaurants?

    I would separate out the Applebee's and Boston Market approach from the Chuck E. Cheese approach. The former are at least telling you their association. I'd look at Neighborhood Wings and think, "hey, it's Applebee's wings - don't care what you call it." If I like Applebee's wings I'm in, otherwise I'm out. Chuck E. Cheese was sleazy - it's been 50-odd years since I've been to a kid's party there - I don't remember the characters. To not say there's a relationship is misleading a customer.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    New marketing analytics for a new COVID-19 reality

    I'd totally disagree, Ralph -- whatever a machine learns from past data is out the window for a while and whatever it learns from recent data is subject to change on a monthly basis. Machine learning is no better than any other form of market analytics at the moment.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    New marketing analytics for a new COVID-19 reality

    Self-servingly, I'm with Joel. Now is the time for experiments rather than models that, almost by definition, won't work for a while.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes?

    From a social perspective, they, like first responders, don't get paid nearly enough. From a capitalist perspective, with unemployment as high as it is, wages are going to decline in many places. As long as stores refuse to force mask-wearing or social distancing, (hello, Kroger) their workers need hazard pay. At places that do enforce the rules, wage supply and demand is going to take over. And everyone watches what a Kroger or a Walmart does and follows along - some lead, most follow.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    Post a sign: "no mask, no service, no exceptions. Thank you for keeping your neighbors safe." If they can't follow that, ask them to leave.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2020

    Will working remotely change how we communicate?

    Hi Ben - I've been seeing the opposite regarding cameras - more people being comfortable with turning them on. Perhaps it's time for a new clothing/grooming trend - ultra casual. :)
  • Posted on: 04/30/2020

    Will working remotely change how we communicate?

    I've been working remotely for years, but for most of my clients, this is a new experience. I've noticed they've gotten more comfortable with the whole idea, including an increase in the percentage who turn on their cameras. While Dave makes a good point about the conciseness, I also notice more small talk ("how is everyone doing") and much less posturing than often happens in group meetings. So to me, we are getting down to business faster but not as rushed, usually, as we might have been. Also, I predict a serious sales increase in devices designed to trim nose hair.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2020

    Is it okay to profit from a pandemic?

    Gouging is bad - but profits are not a bad thing. People want fashionable masks? Sell them at a fair price. Nobody should be expecting giveaways. And to those who desperately need food - it's being given away as an act of charity, not because you are owed it. Be grateful.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2020

    Should grocers close their doors to customers for safety’s sake?

    No they shouldn't convert - but I have no problem with them instituting customer count limits at any one time and requiring customers to wear masks. Trader Joe's by me is doing this and spraying your hands with sanitizer before you enter - if you don't like it, they are happy to nicely decline to let you in.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2020

    Shake Shack returns $10M paycheck protection loan to the government

    I'm sorry - this an apology after getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar - a hand that shouldn't have been there in the first place if they had an alternative source of funds that was clearly available to them. Granted they played by the rules, but no bonus points for passing on it - shouldn't have been there in the first place.

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