How Great Is It to Have Customers That Absolutely Love You and Plan to Never Leave You?

We also talk about weight loss drugs and sleep apnea, and other stock market news.

ResMed has had the market on sleep apnea cornered for a while, but new weight loss drugs might be creeping in. In this podcast, we look at what could change based on recent studies and some other businesses that have established lifelong customers. Motley Fool analyst Bill Barker and host Dylan Lewis discuss:

  • How weight loss drugs like Eli Lilly‘s Zepbound might be coming for ResMed and the sleep apnea market.
  • RXO takes a bigger piece of the brokered transportation market, scooping up Coyote Logistics from UPS.
  • Target and Shopify linking up for a win-win partnership.

Motley Fool analyst Tim Beyers and host Ricky Mulvey discuss the value of lifetime customer relationships, why they’re huge for the likes of Apple and Costco, and one lesser-known name that may have one too.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool’s free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on June 24, 2024.

Dylan Lewis: Weight loss drugs Zepbound and Mounjaro are putting other markets on notice. Motley Fool Money starts now. I’m Dylan Lewis, and I’m joining over the airwaves by Motley Fool analyst, Bill Barker. Bill, thanks for joining me.

Bill Barker: Thanks for having me.

Dylan Lewis: We’ve got Shopify striking a valuable partnership, a look at businesses that create customers for life. We’re going to kick off today talking about one of the topics for 2024. Bill, ever since the weight management drugs hit the market, there’s been speculation about how they may affect other industries. We’re getting one hint at what that might look like today. Shares of Med Tech company ResMed down 10% after studies of Eli Lilly Zepbound showed the results may help reduce the severity of sleep apnea. ResMed is in the business of sleep apnea, so this is obviously something they are going to be paying close attention to, Bill. In the grand scheme of things that may impact other industries, where does this one weigh for you?

Bill Barker: Where ways for ResMed is pretty heavily, potentially and it’s early to say, but down 10% off this news, good news this is always something, you should look at primarily even as a ResMed shareholder this is good. If there’s another treatment for the thing that ResMed is treating, I can remember ResMed being a great beneficiary of the problems that its main competitor in this space, Phillips had with its sleep apnea machine. Major recall, it’s taken years to sort out. Phillips is now basically out of the US market on its primary machine, but still, these two Philips and ResMed are the duopoly basically for sleep apnea machines, and ResMed spent years being the beneficiary of Phillips’ recall. It was tough watching that to think that, ResMed should take any great cheer in it, you don’t want to be the beneficiary of somebody producing machinery that is harming people, which was the problem with Phillips. So today whether you’re a shareholder and you’re down 10%, that’s a small part of the story for what is good news for most people that this GLP one weight loss drugs are going to have potentially benefits that go well beyond simple weight loss.

Dylan Lewis: I think we need to apply the usual caveats here that this is based on a study. It is early days. There’s still a lot of things that need to be figured out. Hard to say that this is going to take effect immediately, and one of the big reasons for that and why it may not move money too quickly is we have seen generally, Bill, that when it comes to these drugs, there need to be other applications for insurers like Medicare to be willing to cover them. Otherwise, they continue to be prohibitively expensive for most users, about $1,000 a month with no insurance for these drugs. I think a CPAP machine is about $1,000 to $2,000, So we would need to see the medical confirmation here for it to be affordable for many users.

Bill Barker: Yeah. As you’re right to point out that this is one data set, and there will be more necessary both for the reimbursement to change and for masses of people to move from something that in their case is working for them to something that involves taking on a new drug, new medication that has potential side effects. Some of those potential side effects might be good. If the sleep apnea is a product of being overweight in some way. So the early days, the stock is showing it’s been very strong in the wake of all these problems for its main competitor Philips, and this is one of the days when they’ve got to confront that there is a competitor that is not Philips, that is potentially going to take a significant chunk of business away but take years to see.

Dylan Lewis: To your point there, Bill, my dad uses a CPAP machine, and one of the things I’m curious about as we start looking at some of the follow on effects of these drugs being more available and being used for different things is behaviorally how people go from one medical intervention to another. My dad refers to his CPAP machine as his little buddy, it is next to him when he is sleeping, it gets him ready to sleep, he can’t sleep without it. In this case, it would be a big jump for some users that are used to a CPAP machine to switching over to a drug intervention instead. I do kind of wonder how many people are going to be willing to make that jump, especially if it comes with a monthly prescription cost, even if it’s subsidized through insurance.

Bill Barker: Some will, not all, but we are certainly not qualified to give a exact percentage to the second decimal point on how many of those will be. But it won’t be your dad, so less than 100%, we think.

Dylan Lewis: I think that’s fair, and I think what this also solidifies for me is just continued good news for Eli Lilly and continued good news for Novo Nordisk because people have been speculating about the potential applications. This is just further evidence that there’s going to be more research and probably a lot more money flowing into the space.

Bill Barker: Yes, and there’s going to be additionally, given all the attention and all the adoption that appears to be going on, more research on side effects and the long term as that plays out, because it’s too early to know what the long term effects of any of these things might turn out to be, but the press and the applications and the attention, everything, but the cost seems to be very much in favor of many people who will benefit from them.

Dylan Lewis: It’s Monday, and we’ve got a deal to break down. UPS announcing it is selling its coyote logistics unit to RXO, and, Bill, the market was clearly excited about at least the RXO side of this one. Shares up over 20% today on the news, why are investors so pumped about this?

Bill Barker: It’s not all that often that you see the acquirer move up like this. One of the reasons is that RXO’s history prior to having been spun off of XPO, the company which spun off into GXO, XPO, and RXO, was a serial acquirer of companies, and so RXO has not been in that business since the spin-off, but now is back in the business, and that was a very lucrative business for shareholders of XPO. RXO making this acquisition becomes the third largest truck brokerage operator in the country, and that’s good news. That’s going to increase efficiencies, they’re pointing to about $25 million inefficiencies, and it appears to be a good price. This is a company that UPS bought in 2015 for, I think it was 1.6 billion.

Dylan Lewis: I think 1.8, maybe.

Bill Barker: 1.6, 1.8 and it is selling today for 1 billion. We don’t know what spun off and what they’ve spent or earned during that time, but RXO seems to be getting a good price, at least compared to what UPS spent on it, and it’s a known operator coyote. I think it is immediately a creative to earnings, and it just on an earnings per share basis is justified that way, but also pointing to maybe this is the beginning of RXO becoming a big player in the space in a way that it hasn’t been over the last couple of years.

Dylan Lewis: RXO did use the Magic Word bill, $25 million in cost synergies anticipated annually. On the UPS side of this, not always great to sell something at a discount to what you bought it for. That is a business that can stomach an $800 million loss without too much of a trouble. They’ll continue to have coyote providing services through 2030. Is there anything else to make of this on the UPS side?

Bill Barker: Now, when they talk about focusing on the core business and putting a positive spin on it, they don’t mention what they spent and what they’re getting today, so they’re hoping that people aren’t focused on that too much. UPS shareholders aren’t likely to look at this and think very much of it, it’s not going to move the needle on UPS’s business, it does move the needle on RXO’s business. So I think that is creating shareholder rewards today, and hopefully RXO knows how to wring some cost efficiencies out of it and more profits out of it than UPS seem to be able to do.

Dylan Lewis: Rounding us out with the news round up today, Target is looking to boost its marketplace offering and Target plus, and so it’s partnering up with Shopify news out that companies that work with Shopify will be eligible to join Target Plus and the company’s third party marketplace soon. I look at this one, Bill, and I say, it seems like a win for Target and for Shopify here. This seems like a win win. Target is trying to nudge sales growth anywhere they can find it, and Shopify the benefits to sellers just keep getting stronger.

Bill Barker: I would agree. I think that Target it makes sense that they’ve been more of an omni-channel operation and this pushes them more in that direction, as they point out in the earnings announcement, this is going to be a curated list of operators that can get onto the Target plus website. This I think expands their potential fashion offerings in a way that differentiates them from the main competition. I think it is potentially more than a little good for Target, and the market is treating it as a little good, 2% move for Target which is a big company, 2% is meaningful. There might be more there, but time will tell.

Dylan Lewis: I could understand the understated response a little because this marketplace concept is a nascent space for Target. They do not break out the results individually, but they do lump them into that other revenue bucket, they throw some other stuff in there as well. That whole category is less than 2% of revenue for the last quarter, so this is not a big needle mover for the business right now, but I think it is something that if you’re a shareholder of Target or if it’s a business that you’re rooting for, you’d probably like to see them make some inroads on and get some serious traction with that offering.

Bill Barker: They’ve been moving in that direction rather than taking their money and using it to build more big stores and increase footprint and store account. They’re doing more things along this line, it’s been effective for them, and I think that it’s not a big expense so it leaves them with plenty of capital to pursue other things.

Dylan Lewis: It’s always nice to see two businesses that we love partnering up, being friends out there, having some fun together.

Bill Barker: Yeah, and some of these Shopify, I guess, merchants are going to be not just moving into the sort of target plus online space, but into the stores as well, if they’re sufficiently successful and that makes sense. It’s a way for them to get not only more eyeballs online, but hands on the merchandise in the stores, so I agree, it’s a good thing for everybody involved, at least as it’s spun out today, and see what it amounts to and whether it ever gets broken out, in a way that investors can actually put a real value on.

Dylan Lewis: Sounds like sing, we could put a call out for some boots on the ground reporting back once those items hit. These store shelves, Bill. Bill Barker, always appreciate you being here. Thanks for joining me today.

Bill Barker: Thanks for having me.

Ricky Mulvey: Ricky Mulvey with Motley Fool Money. I want to tell you about another podcast, though, called The Next Wave. Posted by AI experts Matt Wolfe and Nathan Lands, the next wave is the essential guide for business owners navigating the complexities of artificial intelligence. This podcast demystifies AI making it accessible and actionable for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to harness its potential. Matt and Nathan explore real world applications of AI across various industries and tackle common challenges that you may face while using it. One episode I recently checked out, had a great conversation about how AI will impact the entertainment industry. Imagine being able to create Disney level storyboards for an animated film. The title is Greg Eisenberg’ step by step blueprint to building a successful AI business. You’ll also learn about how to leverage communities and personal brands to grow your own business. There are more episodes available where you’ll learn practical strategies for integrating AI into your operations to drive growth and innovation. Just search for the next wave in your favorite podcast app, that’s the next wave.

Dylan Lewis: Coming up, are there any businesses where you’re a lifelong customer? Maybe Apple, Costco, Spotify? Tim Beyers caught up with Ricky Mulvey to discuss the value of lifetime customer relationships and a data analytics company that might be getting them.

Ricky Mulvey: Tim, we were chatting in the office about this, and when there’s a Tim Rant going on in the office, there’s nothing like getting it live. I know you’re getting it through the podcast, but live, there’s a different energy to it, and one of the things that you were talking about, and I wanted to bring it to the show is the importance of lifetime customers for a business and investing, finding the companies that do that particularly well. We’ve got some responses from listeners, but I think the easy examples would be like a Costco or a Disney, and before we get to the investing side, are there any companies that you consider yourself to be a lifetime customer of?

Tim Beyers: I would say Apple, I have an emotional connection to Apple going back to the earliest days with when my uncle first got us an Apple II computer for our house, and I was hooked to the Apple brand from a very early age, and when I got my first Mac, and that is back in the days when the Mac was very early. I didn’t get the 1984 Mac, but I did get, I believe it was a 1987 or 88 Mac, it wasn’t the original box. Might have been the LC. I don’t remember exactly, but I have an emotional connection to Apple, and so I consider myself emotionally connected to that brand, which is for Apple is great for them because their cost to acquire me as a customer is essentially zero moving forward. They have to do nothing to acquire me as a customer, how about that? Like, I know you’re going to get into the question of the economics here, but that’s one of the beautiful economics of lifetime customers.

Ricky Mulvey: Tim White would also agree with you, your co-host on this week in Tech. He said the Apple iPhone because switching is too hard and current alternatives are not better. Our colleague Mary Long would also agree with Apple, basically saying, she can’t imagine not buying a Mac as her next computer or an iPhone as her next iPhone, et cetera. You mentioned the emotional connection, but with Apple, they make it a little tough to switch out of their ecosystem once you’re on Apple. There’s some tremendous switching costs, I would say, to going to anything else, whether it’s having all your photos and messages in one place or just knowing how the key functions work if you’re on a Mac and then going back to windows. Some other examples, too, that I can bounce off of you to see what you think for lifetime customer relationships. These were from other fools we had Amazon from Allison Southwick, boxes or groceries arriving weekly. Robert Brokamp saying, do the bucks count? Otherwise, his real answer is Starbucks. But if a new coffee shop opened in his area that had better coffee, better ambience, and at a better price, he would switch in a heartbeat. From X, we got Kellogg‘s from Justin Weinman, and Domino’s from Irritable Investor. The one we were talking about before the show was Spotify, which was mentioned by three or four people saying that they have a lifetime relationship with Spotify. Any reactions to any of those companies on the list?

Tim Beyers: One of the things that’s really interesting is I’ll use Spotify is the example here, I would fundamentally agree with that. When you become a brand or a service with which a customer becomes so associated with, lifetime customer means you have formed a habit around doing business with that brand, and so when you formed a habit, such that the buying is just automatic, the company does not have to do anything to acquire your business. Then now, there is an obligation that exists on the other side of the equation, which is, you must not disappoint me. I am a habitual buyer of your product, so my belief in you and my expectations of you are very high, and so if you disappoint me dramatically, I won’t just quit, I will quit in a raging fury and tell everybody why I hate what you did, because it isn’t just that you disappointed me, Ricky, it’s that you betrayed me.

So let’s use Spotify as an example here, I like Spotify, I use Spotify free I don’t pay for it, but I’ve been a very loyal customer of it because I love the user interface, particularly for podcast. But because I have a very old phone, and everybody who’s been listening to Motley Full Live knows that I have an old potato phone, and on that potato phone, I can only upgrade Spotify to a certain a certain version of the app, and in that App Ricky, I don’t have the most modern feature of Spotify for podcast, which allows me to click on a button that says, not interested in this podcast. So what’s happening right now is I’ll be walking, whether I’m commuting to the office or some other thing, I’ll be listening to a podcast. It finishes, and now it’s going to auto to another podcast, and invariably, once every, I’m going to say three times, it starts a podcast that I just pull the earbuds out in disgust and say, Why can I not say, I’m not interested in this podcast? It makes me absolutely crazy and it does make me feel betrayed, and it does make me start looking, and so I have been looking like, is there a better podcast option for me because it’s making me insane.

Ricky Mulvey: I have not had that issue with Spotify.

Tim Beyers: That’s because you probably don’t have an phone.

Ricky Mulvey: I pay for Spotify.

Tim Beyers: And you pay for it.

Ricky Mulvey: There you go. Tim it’s a list of complaints with a product you use for free.

Tim Beyers: I know, and see, isn’t that amazing? This is the thing that’s so interesting about that business is I am actually a very valuable customer to Spotify because on the podcast side of their business, the advertisements are vibrant, they make a lot of money from it. So they make a lot of money from me. Now, I get a lot of enjoyment out of those podcasts, but I am very profitable for Spotify.

Ricky Mulvey: It makes sense intuitively that a business wants lifetime customers.

Tim Beyers: Yes.

Ricky Mulvey: But there’s a deeper economic explanation as to why they matter so much. What’s the breakdown?

Tim Beyers: The breakdown is this, once you acquire a customer and if you’re trying to get lifetime customers, you are deliberately trying to forge some relationship. That can be an emotional connection to the brand, that can be something like an enterprise technology, where we call solution sale, where you have a problem, and I have come to you with a solution, and so what I’m selling to you is pain relief, and as long as that pain relief is satisfied and you are not experiencing that pain anymore, you’re going to keep paying because, like, I don’t ever want to experience that pain again, so there’s some kind of relationship here, and once the relationship exists, Ricky, then the marginal economic benefit of repeated sales is just higher. Maybe it costs me a little more to acquire you as a customer because the expectation is this is going to be a long term relationship, and I’m willing to invest in that. I might invest a little bit more because if you’re with me as a customer for a lifetime, several years, every succeeding sale is going to be very close to 100% margin, and that is extraordinary.

Ricky Mulvey: So we’ve gotten a few responses from the customer side. That’s the first part of the Peter Lynch walk. What are some brands that I love and I use all the time that I see other people using? Let’s go to the second part with your investment analyst hat on. Are there any businesses that are pursuing these lifetime customer relationships in an interesting way to you?

Tim Beyers: I’ll put it this way since I cover so many tech stocks, and sometimes we get lost, and I’ll give you a metric that you probably hear us talk about all the time, and this discussion should put this metric in some very important context. Dollar-based net retention rate or large customer count, and you may see these from companies like Snowflake or OKTA, companies like this, Monday where you have big customers that they are trying to win, and this is entirely Ricky about lifetime customer value, because the thinking is that once a customer decides to commit a certain amount of spend, and across the entire network of customers that not only did we retain 100% of all of the spend on our platform, but it was say 120%. It was 20% more than that. Now I can tell you that I have the economic benefit of customers who are making big bets on my platform, very sticky, and what that suggests is that even if I’m not profitable today, I am doing the economic work to get super profitable tomorrow. Does that make sense?

Ricky Mulvey: It makes a lot of sense.

Tim Beyers: This is why you have a lot of these companies talking about these metrics because there is some real power to when a customer makes a big commitment to a platform, they tend to stick with it because it’s habitual, like, here it is, we have made this commitment too, let’s talk about the company we talked about earlier. This is a truth about Oracle. We made the commitment to the Oracle database, we built a lot of our business on it, it’s habitual, we have hired people to maintain it, and so we are expecting. It’s just a habit that we form, we’re going to write a lot of big checks to Oracle. We’re committed to it, and that is incredibly profitable over time. It’s how a company like Oracle or Snowflake can generate so much cash from the underlying business, even if in the case of Snowflake, on a gap basis, they’re not yet profitable, not yet, but they are growing toward what I would presume at some point is going to be a very large amount of profit.

Ricky Mulvey: If you’ve got a company that you think you are a lifetime customer of, let us know what the company is and why you have that relationship with them, you can tweet us @Motleyfoolmoney on X, or email us at [email protected] that is podcasts with an s Thanks Tim, appreciate your time and your insight on it.

Tim Beyers: Thanks, Ricky.

Dylan Lewis: As always, people in the program, may own stocks mentioned, and the Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don’t buy or sell thing based solely on what you hear. I’m Dylan Lewis, thank you for listening. We’ll be back tomorrow.

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