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: 07/18/2018

    Will Kroger’s new app make customers healthier than those who shop at rivals?

    Susan - I think that increasing touchpoints and providing opportunities for influential messaging would most likely kill this app rather than it just being irrelevant. Why would anyone use it if Kroger uses it for messaging when there are other apps that do the same thing without the intrusion?
  • Posted on: 07/18/2018

    Will Kroger’s new app make customers healthier than those who shop at rivals?

    This won't be very popular. There will be those who are very serious about their diets and have plenty of time to devote to that effort -- they might love this. This competes directly with the need to shop quickly and efficiently -- my bet is that quick wins out over healthy. Kroger might find out how few shoppers there are that are deeply concerned with the health level of foods. While that is good learning, it's hardly a breakthrough.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2018

    New CEO focused on keeping the Dunkin’ brand relevant

    Dropping the "Donuts" from DD is minor compared to IHOB. DD has always been about coffee "and ..." The "and ... " has morphed over the years, but slowly and without destroying the equity they had built. I'd expect them to keep this up. Keep selling good coffee for a lot less than Starbucks.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    It's not about the physical store, Lyle - Walmart is cheaper than Amazon.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Seth -- I don't see how CVS and Walgreens are any more convenient than Target or Walmart. I have two CVSes and Walgreens near me and the same number of Targets and Walmarts. Both of the latter offer self-checkout, so they're faster and cheaper -- no lines.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Yes and no -- it will establish them as a lower-priced option in the OTC market (although it's interesting to note that Walmart's prices on the few items I checked are lower than Amazon's). Shipping time may be an issue for those not on Prime or on their subscription plan; if I need a pain reliever, I need it now, not two days from now. Whether this can translate into Rx is another matter -- it's largely dependent on the cost of the drugs to Amazon. CVS and Walgreens can't possibly cut their prices that low -- they'll have to emphasize assortment, service and immediacy.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Will America win the trade war?

    We need a scalpel. We picked up a machete instead.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2018

    Study claims positive plus-size clothing messages may have a downside

    I can't help but think of the phrase, "Die young and leave behind a good-looking corpse." There are two competing issues here, one medical and one psychological. Psychologically, acceptance of a less-than-perfect body is a good thing. Medically, if you're overweight, you're going to have issues down the road. These directly conflict. It's not the fashion retailer's job to make you healthy, it's their job to sell you clothes you like. Pushing health is not going to help them do that.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Kroger to deliver groceries using driverless cars

    Max -- it's pretty rare that I disagree with you. I'm not sure this is going to save money for the retailer or for the consumer -- indeed, likely to cost more for the consumer.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Will Amazon’s PillPack acquisition disrupt the retail pharmacy business?

    This could be a big one, never mind what PillPack actually does. The ability to distribute pharmaceuticals nationally at what we would assume to be a lower price is huge.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Kroger to deliver groceries using driverless cars

    I assume the cost of the vehicle is more than compensated for by lower labor costs over its useful lifetime. The issue with grocery picking and delivery still remains -- how good is the meat and produce that someone (or something) else chooses? Is the food fresh after a few hours on the road? Yes, it could be the future once the logistics and safety technology and security issues are worked out.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2018

    Frito-Lay scores by personalizing consumer experiences

    I think the brand interaction people want is heavily dependent on the type of product you are selling. And I'm pretty sure for most CPG products, brand experience is way overrated. I don't want an experience with my toilet paper or my breakfast cereal -- I want the product. The only experience my wife wants with her Activia yogurt is the one they promise. This may not be personalization they are talking about but relevance -- two different concepts.
  • Posted on: 06/25/2018

    Past browsing does not indicate future purchase

    Perhaps because personalization is the wrong concept. Stealing here from Joel Rubinson - perhaps relevancy is the guiding concept. If I'm searching for a trash can, showing me a trash can ad is relevant. If I've just bought one, it's now irrelevant. It's only when purchasing is on a regular schedule (like dog food for my dogs, every 40 days) or there is a pattern -- I bought four things, all with a Santa Fe Southwestern theme -- that this attempt at personalization should work.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2018

    CVS looks to one-up Walgreens, other rivals with nationwide Rx deliveries

    My first real job was working at a pharmacy -- everyone made deliveries and they were free. When CVS came to our town, this was the big point of differentiation -- CVS was low price, we were all high service. Now CVS is giving away the price advantage to Walgreens. Might it work against Amazon? You'd have to be quite a gambler to believe Amazon can create the infrastructure for drugs -- are there that many pharmacists out there who can work in each city? Remember, the pharmacist (or her assistants) have to have the written prescription and personally identify the recipient in many states.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Kroger walks away from Raleigh-Durham

    I would have thought they'd either leave the market to Harris Teeter (as they've done with other acquisitions) or re-brand the entire chain. To have both in a market never seemed to make much sense. The biggest reason I've ever seen to NOT enter a market is because you (the chain) believe you're special or offer something really different that you think people want. There is too little research done and too much groupthink in this process. Outsiders need to tell you your chain is different in a good way.

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