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: 09/20/2018

    Amazon tries to deflect political attacks

    Rule #1 of propaganda warfare is do not respond to negative propaganda -- you never win. So Amazon would do well to have "no comment" except for purely factual and verifiable statements.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    Curating content and keeping food fresh is probably their biggest challenge. As to who is affected, probably not the usual store - maybe restaurants/small mom and pops that serve food. As the article says, this is a work in progress, which is Amazon code for we don't know what we're doing but we're trying to get there.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    What will a ‘new standard for green retail’ mean for Starbucks’ results?

    There will always be someone who thinks this is more important than the taste or price of the coffee and would switch to Starbucks. It's unlikely that the goodwill will pay out, but good for them.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    Walmart expands test of giant automated grocery kiosk

    For starters, they would have to redesign this for my area - it violates all kinds of building codes that Walmart agreed to in order to build in some of our suburbs outside Atlanta. I'm curious as to whether shoppers are complaining that pickup takes too long? It takes me a few minutes to walk into my store and get my stuff - at most, I've been second in line. And every time someone uses this, Walmart loses an opportunity to get additional purchases.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    Ken, yes, Whole Foods's produce is about 20% more here (just got back from Publix) in Atlanta. But I was looking at grapes, tomatoes, and celery and Whole Foods's quality was much better. Also, I wouldn't expect much of an economy of scale for produce to the extent that stores are trying as much as possible to source locally. I also looked at the meats, which are easily 40% higher on a per pound basis, but look significantly better. 40% more better? Probably not. My point was simply that nobody shops at Whole Foods for the good prices and at least here in Atlanta they are pushing quality, not price.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    It's not that Whole Foods is over-priced, it's that it is high-priced with high quality products -- there's a key difference. If you're not into the 365 product line a.) you should be because it's pretty good stuff and b.) you are still paying the same or similar prices as before. Get over it -- if you don't like the prices, go shop at Trader Joe's.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Will a new beauty concept help CVS pull shoppers from Sephora and Ulta?

    When I think "beauty", CVS is not what I think. Can it help sales? Sure. Will it be profitable? Maybe not. And the concept has nothing to do with health. If CVS wants to be healthy, dump the junk food.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Can Kroger turn Cincinnati into an alt-Silicon Valley?

    Kroger's future may well be helped by leveraging technology. Leveraging technology in Cincinnati is not necessary. Remember Mark Twain's famous quote, "When the world is coming to an end, I'd like to be in Cincinnati, because it takes Cincinnati 10 years to catch up with the world."
  • Posted on: 09/04/2018

    Walmart’s two-day shipping pledge comes with a caveat

    Sometimes you just have to sit back and say, what are they thinking? Yes, they have to manage their costs. Make it clear that it's a limited two-day item. It's not about this sale, it's about the next time.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2018

    Walmart could have you shopping in The Matrix

    We have been using this as the lead-in for our VR experiments for the past 25 years. But do we really think this will happen? Sure -- will it take another 10-20 years? Probably. The technology is becoming easier and easier to create, but upkeep still presents a lot of technical problems. It might be a great game once or twice, but it's not that easy to take part in and is much slower than you'd think for the participant. They'd get bored quickly, I suspect, until much greater advances are made.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Is Amazon a major threat to Trader Joe’s?

    Or Rich, as some others have noted, it may just be a crappy survey.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Which market research tasks are likely to be taken over by AI?

    Natural language processing is the most obvious benefit of AI - the ability to understand what shoppers say in text messages, social media, open-ended survey responses, etc., is a great leap forward. It's not as likely to kill jobs -- but it may change the jobs that are needed. The risk is that people will believe what the system says and not check it/curate it/validate it. AI is just a program and is capable of producing the wrong answer.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Is Amazon a major threat to Trader Joe’s?

    I'm not sure this data shows any threat to Trader Joe's from Whole Foods. A 2 percent share shift means one week of shopping has shifted -- not a lot. It would be a mischaracterization to assume the two chains are providing the same type of products to shoppers -- it's a different type of assortment with a different price scale. Trader Joe's should do what it does best -- curate food that customers want at a great price.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2018

    What should retailers do to ensure seafood sustainability?

    This is the usual "green" discussion, this time using seafood as the object of outrage. No, most consumers do not care about sustainability or illegal fishing or human rights abuses or single-use plastic. This doesn't mean retailers should not do something positive about this, but don't expect shoppers to flock (or swim) to your store because you are taking some steps. A single retailer doing something is not going to fix the problem -- we need most retailers to do it all at once.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2018

    Are stock-up grocery trips becoming a thing of the past?

    I'm hoping you all realize that this is a global study, not a U.S. study. This may have nothing to do with U.S. shopping patterns changing. The clue -- there is no way that 70 percent of U.S. shopping trips are at small stores.

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