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: 05/12/2021

    Will going low lift up Bed Bath & Beyond’s sales and profits?

    I like it - it gives me a choice of price points. Key will be that the quality of this new line is at least decent. Don't want kitchen tools breaking after a few uses.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Why is omnichannel sales attribution still a problem?

    I'm not as sure as Bob and Neil are that the solution is a simple programming answer. Example - I go into Best Buy, I shop around, come home and show Toni, she picks the one she likes, I order it online. Short of asking me a.) if I first shopped for this at a store, b.) if so, which one and when, c.) did I get help from an associate, and d.) if so, whom -- how are they going to know? Stop commission based sales and you solve much of this problem, although you might open up other cans of worms.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Will CVS make a breakthrough as it expands in-store mental health services?

    I'm not sure I'd call either a mental health problem, although psychology has a fair amount to say about smoking cessation and weight management. My reading of the post was that this was for more serious issues requiring a therapist or a social worker.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Will a virtual quick serve restaurant drive Pepsi’s cola sales?

    Coke coined the phrase "Everything goes better with Coke," which strikes me as a much better idea than "Only some things go better with some Pepsi." And really, delivery based on a soft drink? Does their consumer franchise have too much expendable income?
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Will CVS make a breakthrough as it expands in-store mental health services?

    I can't resist: Are they crazy?! There is, unfortunately, still a stigma to seeking mental health care. Should they encourage it? Sure. Should it be even vaguely obvious to everyone in the store that your are seeking help? Not today. Society is not nearly enlightened enough. Big-time fail.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    What goes into standout Mother’s Day marketing campaigns?

    TJX wins for me, with Dick's a close second. Both are very tied to their products (Samsung not so much). Dick's hits the heart strings a bit, TJX has the humor.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    7-Eleven spending $70M to promote the convenience of its new tech

    Have to love a Spinal Tap reference, Georganne!
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    7-Eleven spending $70M to promote the convenience of its new tech

    I'm wondering if the folk at 7-Eleven have been reading too much stuff about store experiences. It's a convenience store. It has lots of food, only some of which may be good for you (as opposed to tasting good, which is most of it). Make it clean, make it with aisles wide enough to walk through, make the products visible, and have someone friendly at the counter. I'm not sure you need much more than that.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2021

    Are consumers getting less creeped out about being tracked online?

    For better or worse, we are probably getting used to it. The ones that are creepy (like listening in, cross-platforming, etc.) will likely remain creepy for some time. Within in-app/website, knowing you have clicked on an item will become increasingly accepted in the years to come, if it's not already accepted.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    What goes into delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience?

    I'm wondering if the premise is relevant - I'm not sure who it is that is looking for a wow experience at retail, but they must be disappointed a great deal of the time. These "wows" are all pretty blah - and as Tony Orlando has said lots of times, they are not "wows" but should be basic to your operation.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Will American consumers push back against higher grocery prices?

    Business as usual - prices are not increasingly radically and as long as you remain competitive, you shouldn't have to address price increases at all. But watch out for lower priced channels - don't get too far ahead.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2021

    How should grocers decide which SKUs to bring back?

    Analytically, you should be testing new assortments but, of course, that's how I make my living. Short of that, give shoppers more REAL choice and less duplication. I don't need five brands of field peas and three sizes of any one are probably enough. Give me a base brand and a private label. Each item you put on a shelf should be able to stand up on its own unless the business is variety-driven. I'm thinking Sparkling Ice, where variety of flavors is key - but how many categories are like that? Keep in mind that product availability is still an issue in many categories, even those you might not expect (like small cans of cranberry sauce, Publix).
  • Posted on: 04/14/2021

    Is e-grocery killing or inspiring impulse buys?

    What I think doesn't much matter - there should be real data (not self-reported survey data) on this topic. For example, Kroger knows what volume of impulse items they sold two years ago, last year, and this year and can identify whether a sale came from in-store or online (and could probably split online into BOPIS and delivery). We should see what that data says - people these days will lie through their teeth as a self-image protection measure.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2021

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s new ad help change how consumers see the retailer?

    Bed Bath & Beyond has a great idea and is perfect for the times. But if that coupon isn't there, it isn't going to do much good for their base shoppers. This isn't a one-year project, it's a generational effort.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2021

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s new ad help change how consumers see the retailer?

    Of course they will, Gene.

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