Dr. Stephen Needel

Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations

Dr. Stephen Needel is Managing Partner of Advanced Simulations, based in 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 as well as being an adjunct faculty member at the University of Connecticut.

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.

His international experience dovetails nicely with his appreciation of English beers, South American beef, Australian football, and Mexican chilies. He’s proud to have passed on this set arcane tastes to his son.

  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    Yes you are getting older, jaundiced, and more pragmatic, Paula -- but you are right, there is more to the checkout experience. Like a cashier or self-checkout assistant who knows my name saying hello, goodbye, and thank you, so it doesn't seem like a soulless business transaction. :)
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    If the technology had been proven from a shopper experience and store profitability perspective, we would have a whole lot more than 26 stores. We don't know yet if this is a thing or will be a thing - nobody's shown scalability or profitability numbers yet. Sure, the pandemic is making it more interesting to try. A short-term phenomenon.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2021

    Is it the right time to reopen food bars?

    I'm okay with their re-opening if you're okay with the store's hygiene. That said, I'd have only pre-wrapped or my own utensils and I'd wash my hands when I got home/to the office. But then, I live in Georgia where I'm not sure a majority believe in COVID-19, so I'm a bit more cautious who I hang with and where.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Marketers are going online more and in-person less to gather research data

    It's digital research, Di Di - see my comment to Jeff above.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Marketers are going online more and in-person less to gather research data

    Jeff - I'm pretty sure you're referring to behavioral research and not digital research. Digital research refers to any research that is initiated and conducted online vs. in-person vs. observation. So a survey can be initiated online or in person, it can be conducted online or in-person, and it can be the exact same survey with the exact same pluses and minuses.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Are Americans ready to do some good old-fashioned ‘revenge shopping’?

    Psychologically, I think we want to return to normal (whatever normal was for you). If that included treasure hunting, you'll want to go back to that and that bodes well for TJX - online treasure hunting has never been reported to be as much fun as in-store.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Marketers are going online more and in-person less to gather research data

    Remember first that we've shifted online because we can't do in-person. Even as places like malls reopen, the question of the whether the sample is vaguely representative is a very iffy one. And online has its issues, whether qualitative or quantitative. There is a lot of concern about burning out panels and whether respondents are paying as much attention when doing this online. Greymatter and Harmon Research have been doing a lot of work on this - the answer is not pretty. Cautions are needed, which makes DIY research even more dangerous these days unless you really know what you're doing.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2021

    Can making deliveries once a week make e-commerce sustainable and more profitable?

    The idea is compelling, especially for those attuned to environmental concerns. I wonder if the appeal is limited though, in that it's the retailers tied to the service. If that's not a limitation, or if the scope of the retailers grows, I can imagine trading off next-day delivery for the environment - and I think shoppers can be trained to buy into that for most things.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2021

    Will 7-Eleven’s beer and wine on tap be a c-store game changer?

    I'm not thinking this will be a big thing, as opposed to buying a six-pack or a bottle of wine, although we can assume an early trial bump. There are way too many problems as my colleagues mention above.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2021

    Will 7-Eleven’s beer and wine on tap be a c-store game changer?

    Or, this could bring a whole new meaning to the term "Big Gulp." :)
  • Posted on: 02/17/2021

    Should retailers just say ‘no’ to Instacart?

    The bigger question may be, "What do we expect will happen if/when the pandemic ends?" For those who believe life has changed irrevocably, either get your game on now or give up and go to Instacart. Different story for those who believe life will go back to normal. Think less about delivery and more about curbside pickup.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2021

    Digital gains are changing how Best Buy puts its associates to work

    You can put lipstick on it, it's still a pig. The company has good numbers but in order to keep up those profits, they are trimming some staff and re-assigning others. It's not a flexibility play or a shift-to-digital play per se, it's a profit play. More digital often means fewer associates.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2021

    Walmart discovers a unique craft beer on Instagram. Will this become a thing?

    I'm not sure this is a pandemic inspired idea or whether it was inevitable. Innovation is always assumed to be much easier than it actually is, which is why we don't see much of it. If social media can point towards a new idea that otherwise might not get a hearing, good on them.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2021

    Should Aldi’s growing store count and digital progress keep rivals up at night?

    I'm not sure how much success they are having using online ordering and curbside pickup TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS, George. The article doesn't say that's the cause of growth - more likely it's tied to more stores and keeping their prices low. They have an image problem here in Georgia that Lidl has managed to avoid. Improving their image could be very troublesome for their competition.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2021

    Will big food brands turn to home-delivered meals to drive future growth?

    Nestle bought a good name in this space - but as Ryan and others point out, how long is this space going to be big enough? Pandemic goes away, so does delivered meals. Keep in mind, this is not a meal kit, so the "we're into cooking now" aspect isn't present. And Gene is right on - sooner or later, post-pandemic, the cost-cutting will start and the brand goes down in flames.

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