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: 11/17/2017

    Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?

    Sure private label will grow, but I suspect that most of their eight share points is going to come from Amazon, Aldi and Lidl expansion, not true growth.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    Big Data is done, put a fork in it

    Back in 2013 I delivered a paper at ESOMAR's congress on why Big Data was not such a big deal -- this echos a lot of what I said at the time. I'm not sure this was ever a "progressive" movement. We were sold a bill of goods on possibilities that turned out not to exist. I've always maintained that marketers and retailers need to focus on the questions they would like answered and let their researchers find the best way to answer them. We shouldn't put the cart before the horse, trying to leverage the data we have, just to try and leverage it.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2017

    Gillette’s odd promo delivers some very weird results

    This points out a weakness of Big Data - that data quality is of critical importance. That said, I doubt many of those who get a razor in error are going to never use Gillette again, so the risk/cost of a mishap is probably minimal.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2017

    Walmart plans to party hardy throughout the holidays

    This forum has always brought up how bad an experience it is to shop Walmart during the holidays. Anything they can do to improve that experience should help them. It also sounds like they are doing things that will keep shoppers in the store longer, which should be good for sales.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2017

    Johnson & Johnson takes aim at digital disruption

    The changes in the traditional sell-in channel may be smaller now than the article implies. That said, companies should be thinking about what changes that will become bigger in the future will mean for them. J&J's approach seems sound for any business regardless of whether there is channel disruption or not.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2017

    When are text messages welcome from retailers?

    I'm not seeing anything in here that suggests push notifications are a good idea. We haven't seen a lot of research lately that says shoppers want to be intruded upon -- beacon technology being the most prominent example of that. How does a retailer determine what a shopper wants? Asks them.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2017

    How will AI transform the online experience?

    Ryan - to expand upon a point you made regarding data. We need to remember that a retailer only has access to data that they are collecting when it comes to shopping. Amazon doesn't know what I look at on and vice versa. That makes personalization a bit trickier.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2017

    How will AI transform the online experience?

    While it is certainly coming, AI (or, more likely, machine learning) is not going to transform the experience for years. The price tag and computing power required are slowing down adoption, although those are becoming less of a problem all the time. The question retailers should be asking is how much AI is needed and how much benefit is gained by increasing that amount.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2017

    Target has a plan to end the Christmas sales madness

    Whether their strategy will fix things may depend on why sales were down last year. If it was promotion-driven, in that they were charging less, then reducing promotions may help (although lower prices all around may offset that). If it was fewer customers online or in the stores, I'm not sure they will be doing anything different enough from the competition to make a difference.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    Should Kroger sell its c-stores?

    Kroger generated $115 billion in sales -- the c-stores generated $4 billion, including gas. It's a very small part of their business. If these stores are no more profitable than 4 percent of Kroger's profits, and if they make money on the sale, sell. I don't expect there's much carryover from their c-stores to their main stores and it will help improve their focus.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    I agree with Ben; most of the money in grocery is still in physical stores -- improve those.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2017

    Are store brands a ‘fundamental defining piece’ of the retail experience?

    I'm not sure "fundamental" is the right term -- but they can certainly contribute to the perceptions of a retailer's offering. We go to Costco rather than Sam's or BJ's because of the Kirkland brand. Should you elevate your PL brand? Yes, if that fits with your mission and the financials associated with it. Publix works hard -- and usually succeeds -- at delivering a quality product. Not all chains do this. And while yes, younger people may be more willing to try new products, as a gross generalization, having to buy large sizes of an unknown product on may not be as cool as they want it to be.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    If it avoids return problems, then it will improve sales down the line. Returns can be a major source of customer dissatisfaction and Walmart's in-store return lines can approach the ridiculous.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Can AR trigger TRU’s turnaround?

    The problem is not the in-store experience, the problem is getting people to the store instead of Walmart or online buying. This will not bring people into the store in any meaningful numbers.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Will Uniqlo find success with its denim-only concept shop?

    Does this not sound suspiciously like Gap? Wasn't Gap great until it expanded its selection?

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