The latest news in the world of customer experience and customer loyalty.
 
The Price of Customer Loyalty is Too High for iPhone X
Apple is releasing its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, and at least some of it will be written in red ink. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, the company’s iPhone X—which is its most expensive phone by far with a retail starting price of $999—is doing so poorly that it’s cutting its production in half, to 20 million from the 40 million it initially planned. It also is reported to have cut orders for components by 60 percent. However, its older and less expensive 6, 7 and 8 series models are expected to show a 1.5-percent growth in sales, showing customers are still sold on its products. Apple has some of the most rabid, loyal customers, but apparently loyalty has a price, and $999 isn’t it.
 
United Airlines Buys Naming Rights to L.A. Coliseum for $69 Million
What’s in a name? Recognition, brand loyalty—and apparently a lot of money. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, United Airlines is paying the University of Southern California $69 million over 16 years to rename the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—which is the home to the USC and Los Angeles Rams football teams, and will be the host facility of the 2028 Summer Olympics—the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The 95-year-old facility needs $270 in upgrades before the Olympics, and USC, which operates the facility under a 98-year lease, has raised the amount through donations and now the naming rights. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, by the way, is a USC alumnus.
 
Walmart Teams Up with Rakuten in New Strategic Alliance
With more than 6,200 stores in 27 countries, Walmart has established a solid international presence. And that presence just got a little larger. The retail giant announced that it is partnering with e-commerce and offline shopping corporation Rakuten Kobo Inc. in an effort to increase customer experiences. According to an article in Business Wire, the new strategic alliance “leverages each company’s unique strengths and assets to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the U.S.” The partnership includes the launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan beginning in the third quarter of 2018. Walmart will also become the exclusive mass retail partner for Rakuten’s eBooks and audiobooks. The alliance was made in Tokyo by
Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon and Rakuten Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani. Earlier this month we wrote about McMillon’s commitment to employee/customer engagement when he joined National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay for a keynote session titled, “The Changing Face of Retail,” at NRF 2018 in New York City.
 
Keurig To Buy Dr Pepper Snapple Group
According to The Chicago Tribune, Keurig will purchase Dr Pepper Snapple Group that will create one of the world’s largest beverage companies. The combined business, which will be named Keurig Dr Pepper, is expected to generate about $11 billion in annual revenue, according to CNBC. Keurig Dr Pepper plans to expand its bottled iced coffee offerings that are sold at supermarkets and convenience stores. We wrote a Case Study on Dr Pepper Snapple Group last year following a presentation at the 2017 Loyalty Expo.

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