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: 01/21/2020

    Does convenience trump price for today’s consumer?

    What strikes me is how many different ways we might think about convenience and how those definitions change as we move through a purchase process. For example, convenience in online searching is different from convenience in BOPIS. The simple answer is that retailers need to reduce friction points in finding and buying a product wherever they can. In many cases, this is a no-cost or low-cost process - the fixes are often that simple (add one more clerk at the self-checkout, move BOPIS to the front of the store, separate parking area for BOPIS, etc.) My experience has been that they need outsiders to tell them where the friction points are - where are your mothers when you need them most?
  • Posted on: 01/14/2020

    Consumers want up-to-date online reviews

    First I'll disagree that recency has overtaken overall star ratings - statistically they are the same. Second, this is survey research asking a question that we don't think about much when we're looking at reviews. There is also a likely interaction between stars and recency. You could be five star, but a few recent negatives could kill you. Similarly, you could be three or four stars but recent five stars may say you've fixed the problem. Life is just more complicated than this survey suggests.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2020

    Will ‘guests’ love Target even more as Circle members?

    This strikes me as useful if you are a frequent guest at Target, but doesn't seem to have much that would bring an infrequent shopper in. To many people it's about price and selection and in many cases Target is more than 1 percent expensive (or even more than 5 percent expensive with my RedCard) compared to Walmart.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will coffee drinkers miss single-use cups?

    I wouldn't say backlash, but there will be a decline among people who are a.) non-local and don't want to wait in line for a refund or b.) are local and would feel stupid carrying a mug around. The business question for Blue Bottle is, how big are those groups? Assuming lots of Starbucks locations in their neighborhoods, you don't do anything that will turn away customers.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2020

    Do alcohol and shopping mix?

    I'm wondering why I'm not moving to Virginia (because I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen in Georgia in my lifetime). The only negative I see is if someone is over-served. All the players in these environments have a vested interest in making sure that doesn't happen. Let's take the drinking out of the house, away from the computer, and in public where it belongs.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: The Final Competition

    Macy's -- because anyone can show you they have the stuff you [may] want. It's holiday time -- give us the schmaltz and a cute kid.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: The Final Competition

    Publix always has great ads and this year was no different, Ed.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Giant thinks AR-games are ripe for grocery aisles

    Really?! Kids running through the stores looking for signs! What are they possibly thinking?
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Target vs. Walmart

    I'd go with Target as being more in the spirit of the holiday season - like Lee Kent says, Walmart's ad could have been shown any time. And one quibble for Target - couldn't you throw in one menorah scene?
  • Posted on: 12/16/2019

    Will Hudson be more than just a newsstand with a new look?

    I'm assuming Hudson knows more than I do, although I'm working on my third million miles on Delta so I'm a semi-expert on airports. Yes, they should be fine-tuning their stores all the time, so good for them. But I'm not going there for local stuff - I'm going for travel needs or a snack for the plane, something to read, and maybe a souvenir. They are a news agent, not an upscale retailer, and trying to be the latter will kill them. Their assortment is limited and analysis shouldn't be that hard to show what sells in each airport. Figure that out and make the stores look a little less crowded. And I don't need an app for them.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2019

    Will IHOP fans flip out over its new fast-casual breakfast foods concept?

    Full disclosure - I love IHOP. But IHOP is not an urban thing, nor is it a fast food thing, nor is it even vaguely a healthy-eating thing. Its customers appear to be aging, if my IHOPs are any indication. It will certainly attract some attention just for the newness - you can bet the McDonald's and the Taco Bell crowd will check it out. Atlanta may not be the place to test it though - foot traffic is light relative to other cities (no trains). Don't bet the rent money on this concept.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

    Nothing is safe today - nobody asked what Peloton intended, they just thought they were promoting their product as fun, healthy, and psychologically transforming (ask bike riders - they'll tell you the psychological effects often outweigh the obvious physical impact). The trolls who had nothing better to do than read more into the commercial than was ever intended need to get lives. And good for Aviation Gin - this is speedy marketing at its best.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    Maybe the question should be reversed - why do retailers seem to automatically think shoppers care about their loyalty program? And in many categories, everyone seems to have a program, which either negates the value for the retailer (it becomes a cost of doing business) and is not more or less likely to attract shoppers than a competitor. As everyone will say here, make it valuable and unique to the shopper or don't expect them to care.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Kohl’s vs. Macy’s

    Macy's is what Christmas is supposed to be about, Kohl's is about what it's become. Macy's connects, although I doubt it does much for them beyond name recognition - and maybe that's enough at this time of year for a TV ad.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2019

    Should Starbucks stick with its open bathroom policy?

    It's scary how bad this research is. The sample is biased, the methodology is suspect and, worst of all, it doesn't answer the real question, which is whether sales are weaker with the open policy. With over a year's worth of data, you would expect Starbucks has figured out that the policy doesn't hurt sales.

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.