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: 03/20/2020

    Will GameStop lose more than it wins keeping stores open during the coronavirus outbreak?

    I get why they want to remain open. But I'm picturing the villagers carrying torches, rakes, and pitchforks heading there tonight.
  • Posted on: 03/18/2020

    Michigan AG accuses Menard’s of price gouging

    In this situation, a key question is when prices were raised. Here in Georgia, once a state of emergency is declared, increases on anything are severely limited. Before a state of emergency, capitalism reigns, although one can create a publicity nightmare. $8.99 v. $7.49 for a better/more concentrated bleach product doesn't strike me as gouging.
  • Posted on: 03/18/2020

    Will Lands’ End have a better experience inside of Kohl’s than it did at Sears?

    Price point will be critical. Can I use my Kohl's coupon and Kohl's Cash for Lands' End merchandise? If not, they are just going to make everything else at Kohl's look better priced - good for Kohl's, bad for Lands' End.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2020

    Will the second time be the charm for Albertsons’ IPO?

    I was hard-pressed to think of a good reason years ago and I remain hard-pressed to come up with a reason why this would be a good idea now. Still a large debt in a business that is not growing by leaps and bounds.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2020

    Will augmented reality tech effectively bring the try-on experience online?

    It's one thing to put glasses on a face shot - it's another for me to try on a shirt or pair of pants. I'm guessing makeup could be done well also. So it's a limited application.
  • Posted on: 03/04/2020

    Are strip centers where it’s at for Macy’s and Sephora?

    Go where the traffic is. If Macy's and Sephora believe their target customers are shopping in strip malls, then going there makes sense. Of course this should be tested to ensure that strip mall shoppers are interested in stores like these. I might go to the strip mall for very specific purposes, which may not be what is sold in these stores.
  • Posted on: 03/04/2020

    Target thinks small to succeed big time

    The key will lie in curating the assortment for these new small stores. The right assortment and the right price for a store in a neighborhood with high name recognition could be ideal. Get the assortment wrong or have too limited an assortment and these stores will have problems.
  • Posted on: 03/03/2020

    What will it take to fix J.C. Penney’s shrinking sales problem?

    Is J.C. Penney even still around? That was my first reaction! So I'd say they need to do some radical things to get me back in there. Maybe advertise?
  • Posted on: 02/25/2020

    Will recruiting challenges slow grocery’s digital transformation?

    I'm not sure recruiting digital talent makes my top 10 list of short-term key factors. So I'm not much worried about their ability to recruit or compete for talent. Will automation help retailers? Sure it will (I'm thinking planogram generation, inventory management, logistics, etc.). But retailers can get a bunch of their work done by their vendors, so there's less of a need to invest.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    Should grocers just say ‘no’ to big CPG brands when it comes to shelf decisions?

    I've never liked the category captain model for the same reason Dick mentions - it's an excuse for the retailer to use the manufacturer's labor for free. We've encouraged retailers to engage all their vendors in doing shelf assortment and shelf layout studies. We've also pushed our clients to think more about the impact of their program on the category, particularly store brand and, if it's a small player, the impact on the large players. There's no reason why CPG brands shouldn't have input, but no one brand should run the show.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    What are the biggest barriers to AI adoption for retailers?

    AI is long on hype and low on delivery (as separate from automation, which if done well can be long on delivery). Fine tuning execution is not an AI problem, it's an organizational problem or a research problem.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2020

    What does it take to make collaboration work within organizations?

    First, 61 percent say their organizations do collaborate enough, so let's not assume we have a big problem here. There are many corporate tasks that do not require collaboration - indeed, collaboration would only slow things down and would be unlikely to produce a better solution. What's missing? Reward. Reward people for collaborating and they'll collaborate. Reward them more for collaborating than for solo efforts and they'll be motivated to collaborate. Reward is still the major reason we work for companies.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Shoppers have a love/hate relationship with self-checkouts

    I don't believe that 80 percent of the people experience a problem, although I do believe that 80 percent might have needed help at least once in their lifetime while using a checkout scanner. This isn't a complex process and stores should be regularly checking each terminal for functioning. My Kroger, for example, has the lane assistants constantly checking their own baskets to make sure the system functions correctly.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Will store associates become the ultimate personalization tool at retail?

    This is so true, Michael - we swung way too far on the side of technology thinking that was what was important, now we're coming back the other way.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Would Lumber Liquidators floor customers with a new name?

    Gulp - I just bought my new floors from there! That said, not a single person mentioned problems when I said where we got it. I don't think they are being blamed that much for the bad product as much as the Chinese are. We did our best to make sure the product was not made there, though.

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