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: 06/22/2022

    Can Lowe’s build something tangible in the metaverse?

    Lots of hype - not a lot of sizzle. My guess is they will expend way too much effort for way too little return by doing it themselves. Shoppers have been underwhelmed by this approach to decorating for years, with no signs of them becoming whelmed.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2022

    Ultra-fast delivery may burn out or fade away

    Many of us have been saying this for a long time - nobody needs stuff that fast (except for Cathy's Thai food) and nobody wants to pay for it. Retailers should just forget about rapid delivery now and stay in business instead.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2022

    Should analytics drive category planning?

    We'd prefer category managers to actually test their educated guts. You would be shocked at how many times over the years we've tested a win-win solution for the category and the brand -- 13% of the plans tested. Only 22% improved the category.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2022

    Should analytics drive category planning?

    The mistake many are making is confounding AI with analytics. Analytics may well be critical to category management, but AI is only one of many analytical techniques and by no means a proven one.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2022

    Has online grocery shopping hit its sales ceiling?

    Historically, online grocery had always been way behind the predicted curve, representing about 10 percent to 15 percent of grocery. With the pandemic receding and, as we discussed yesterday, free curbside pickup perhaps disappearing, expect it to stay well below 20 percent.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2022

    Should retailers charge for curbside pickup?

    I'd love to hear a solution, Katie, because nobody has come up with one (to my knowledge).
  • Posted on: 06/10/2022

    Will AR try-on sneaker tech put Amazon a step ahead of its rivals?

    I'm aging with Dave Bruno. Hard to imagine you can't tell what a sneaker is going to look like on your feet without having to resort to AR. I also would expect that the bulk of sneaker returns are not due to "I don't like the look" - I would guess either "They don't fit" or "I found them cheaper".
  • Posted on: 06/09/2022

    Walmart shifts truck pilots into gear as a start to meeting its zero emissions goal

    Good for them for trying these out. No guess as to which will be better or which will be chosen -- I don't know that any of us are electrical or chemical engineers. I'm hoping they choose the one that is best for their bottom line and most sustainable.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2022

    Circle K’s new self-checkouts are kicking barcode scanners to the curb

    OK - the solution is technologically cool. The real question is, how much money does it save? I'm not going to a Circle K instead of a 7-Eleven because it is high tech. And in my smoking days, when I needed to go to a convenience store regularly, if I wasn't the first in line I was the second - they just aren't that busy, I think, to justify this technology. Hopefully they've thought of this and are not being overly optimistic about driving new business.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2022

    New members re-up at Costco in record numbers

    They make it a favorite place to shop - what more should you do as a retailer? Customers recognize this, that's why they renew.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2022

    Will antitrust legislation single out Amazon and let retail rivals slide?

    Two simple words - government overreach! If you don't want to sell on Amazon or abide by Amazon policies, nobody is forcing you.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2022

    Can Old Navy plot a new course and keep its inclusivity pledge?

    Because it's not inclusive? That was exactly what my wife Toni said!
  • Posted on: 05/23/2022

    Do consumers want highly-personalized fridges?

    People with too much money to spend may love this idea. I'm hoping that these images come off the panels easily, otherwise resale would be an issue - I don't want a picture of your kids, no matter how adorable, on my refrigerator. What does it do to returns when the product is defective? A huge problem for Samsung refrigerators which have a lot of initial defects. This is a fringe play at best.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2022

    Can Old Navy plot a new course and keep its inclusivity pledge?

    Anecdotally, my wife had a hard time finding her size (she's like XS) in the styles she liked - not because it wasn't there, but because she had to wade through so many items to find it. She has a problem finding things - she's not having a good time shopping at Old Navy. It was a nice woke idea, maybe not so much of a nice financial idea.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2022

    Whole Foods is into palm reading

    As convenient as this may be, you have to wonder whether the cost of developing it would ever be recovered. I don't see anyone going to Whole Foods because they don't have to pull out their credit card. To me this is another example of technology for the sake of technology, not for solving a problem.

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