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: 09/27/2022

    Is the customer really the most important thing in retail?

    Great points, Ron - as usual. Yes, the customer is critical but no, they do not need to be the focus of every decision. Let's be honest, most of the decisions a retailer makes are invisible or irrelevant to the customer. Don't make life more difficult for your customers and if there's a problem, see if you can fix it. Otherwise, worry about your bottom line, optimize your ongoing processes as much as possible, and have nice front-facing people.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2022

    Rivals take notice as ads account for five percent of Amazon’s retail revenues

    Set any goal you'd like - there's a reason Amazon gets that much ad revenue. When your numbers fall short, there's your excuse - we're not Amazon.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2022

    Should CPG brands cast their DTC businesses in a supporting role to stores?

    I've always had a problem with the idea of bridging a gap with consumers. I'm pretty sure most consumers don't want to have that gap bridged. CPG companies that assume they do are going to waste a lot of time and effort.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2022

    Should CPG brands cast their DTC businesses in a supporting role to stores?

    No - it's not imperative to have DTC sites, although you certainly need to have a good web presence - you just don't need to sell directly from your website. Let's recognize that the people who visit your website are not your average consumers, they are a very special subset of your most engaged buyers. That's fine for research purposes as long as you recognize that it is not even vaguely representative of anything. If you're trying to bring in new buyers to your franchise, this is absolutely the wrong sample.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2022

    Do grocers need a new approach for selling plant-based protein alternatives?

    The write-up sounds like the disappointing sales of plant-based meat is the retailer's fault - hardly the case. Anything can be merchandised better and it probably does make sense to integrate with animal-based products. But all that said, the stuff has to be cheaper and better tasting before we can justify the space and attention.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2022

    Is Kroger’s first-party data ideal for driving programmatic connected TV ads?

    Taking any marketing action based on data from a single retailer is never a good idea unless you are only interested in that retailer's franchise. If I stop buying Chips Ahoy at Kroger, you don't know whether it's because I've stopped buying Chips Ahoy or I'm buying them cheaper elsewhere. Look to better ways to spend your A&M dollars.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2022

    Were Crazy Eddie’s commercials pure genius or insanely awful?

    If you start with the assumption that advertising is all about creating familiarity/name recognition, the commercials were brilliant. Irritating and annoying, but everyone in the area knew the retailer and believed you'd get a good deal there. Would it work today? Sure -- just look at the car dealer ads featuring local owners. Bad acting, bad tag lines that are overused -- but we remember the names.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2022

    Is traditional advertising on the cusp of a comeback?

    It's not like there is a dearth of advertising on TV, folks. It's marketers thinking we only pay attention to online ads. Now they are figuring out we never pay attention to online ads and, more importantly, are becoming less and less likely to believe what we read and hear online. Broadcast still yields a big bang for the buck, although my friend Joel Rubinson would argue that reach is irrelevant - it's targeted reach that's important.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2022

    Shoplifters force Wegmans to pull the plug on its self-scanning app

    Who thought that telling people, "scan it yourselves, we're not watching" was not going to lead to problems? At least at self checkout lines there's somebody watching. Wegmans handed their customers a tool to help them steal - they shouldn't be shocked that they are doing so.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2022

    Kroger simplifies its budget private labels

    Simplifying is almost always a good thing. That said, as a regular Kroger shopper, it wasn't very complicated to begin with. We knew that Private Selection was better, Simple Truth was "natural/organic". Not sure if they get economies of scale for the rest of the products, which would be their financial justification. Otherwise, they'll confuse current shoppers for a bit.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2022

    Things go from bad to worse at Bed Bath & Beyond

    Keep calm and carry on might be their only option. We should ask whether the store is relevant, a remnant of a bygone bricks and mortar age, or if they should remain as part of the re-birth of bricks and mortar. If I were them, I'd liquidate - they've lost whatever mojo was left.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2022

    Will Sam’s Club customers be okay with paying a higher membership fee?

    Not a problem - a small increase compared to potential savings. Hasn't hurt others in the past.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2022

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s new turnaround plan work any better than the previous one?

    Stick a fork in them - they're done. As Mark Ryski says, you don't cut staff and stores to this extent without bigger problems. And Neil Saunders is right - financing needs to be repaid. With a recession, inventory, and supply chain issues, keep expectations low.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2022

    Would organic grocery stores do better if coupled with conventional food stores?

    I'm a big fan of Consumer Reports, but their surveys are heavily biased, geographically and economic-status wise, so take it with a grain of salt (or salt substitute). Natural/organic stores have a dilemma - they can promote their "healthiness," which is why you'd spend the money, or they can dilute their position by allowing in conventional items. I think you have to pick your position - are you a grocery store with organics or are you a natural/organic store? If the latter, leave out the other stuff.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2022

    Should grocers make a big deal out of freezing prices?

    "It's the economy, stupid" --James Carville. That was true in 1992 and true today. You should be doing anything you can do or say to cut prices - and shout it from the mountaintop. Just be aware that if you're not the first to do so, then don't bother - incremental sales will have flown the coop.

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.