PEMEX Move To The U.S. Exemplifies Brand Globalization

The world moves lightning fast. In the energy sector, we know this to be particularly true. But no matter what industry you find yourself in, you have likely come to realize one thing – we don’t do business the way we did yesterday, or the day before that.  Or, in the case of Mexico’s state oil giant, Petróleos Mexicanos, (PEMEX), you don’t do business the way you did for more than 80 years. You declare independence with historic accolades and don’t look back.

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Last week, PEMEX demonstrated it’s commitment to Mexico’s sweeping energy reforms, opening its first gas station outside its domestic borders right here in Houston. And it’s not the first station the Bayou City is going to see – PEMEX has unveiled plans to open four more gas stations across the Houston metro area in the coming weeks, with additional hopes of bringing seven more stations to the city over the next two years.

This is no small feat, not in this market. But when PEMEX’s first gas station opened its doors, it instantly ranked among the city’s most economical destinations for gas, with prices for cash and credit purchases under $1.60 per gallon.

You may be wondering – “Why now?” and you are certainly not alone. Numerous companies have tried and failed in their efforts to shift from their domestic market to a new, international arena. However, the better question to be asking in this situation is, in fact, “Why not?”

From a trends standpoint, it’s not the first time a Mexican company has made the jump into the U.S. market recently, Texas included. It was not long ago that the South Texas cities of Laredo and Eagle Pass became home to Mexico’s Oxxo convenience store chain.

Even so, as oil prices careen towards new 11-year lows, the decision by PEMEX to take on a new international market could easily be met with some confusion, specifically from a financial standpoint. However, it’s worth noting that Mexico’s recent record windfall of roughly $6 billion in oil hedges is huge for energy infrastructure. It not only gives the country and its energy operations breathing space – it should also help act as a shield against an increasingly volatile energy market.

Financials aside, PEMEX’s international growth is about so much more. Make no mistake – this new foray into the U.S. market is about more than a positioned gas station pilot program. It’s about bringing PEMEX (and Mexico) to American consumers. And you can bet that PEMEX did their homework.

PEMEX Takes On Its Toughest Test

Recently, PEMEX’s Chief of Alliances and New Business Development José Manuel Carrera Panizzo stressed the importance of putting the PEMEX brand to the “toughest” test in a prime market, such as Texas, right from the get-go.

Texas remains one of the most competitive gasoline markets in the United States – it is already home to more than 10 percent of the country’s convenience stores and fueling stations. However, PEMEX has a unique opportunity to connect with the state’s booming Hispanic population, something it is already doing right here in Houston.

In a city where Hispanics represent roughly a third of city residents, PEMEX has added a cultural flare to the city’s robust energy operations. The recent grand opening for the PEMEX station featured a mariachi band – homage to the brand’s Mexican roots, as well as the city’s thriving Hispanic community. The convenience store has also been branded “Taco Shack”, though it is just like any other U.S. gas station retail destination.

You see, we are witnessing brand globalization at work right here in Houston. PEMEX has been able to tap into the cultural similarities between its brand and the diversified Houston population, creating an instant consumer base on cultural grounds alone. However, it will be interesting to see if (and how) the company moves forward with disseminating their branding across the American consumer public – particularly those areas where the company or its branding may be virtually unknown.

If you have ever thought about doing business, in any capacity, overseas or across international borders, then take a look at what PEMEX is doing in Houston. It may be a unique case – PEMEX is a global energy provider with a history spanning nearly 100 years – but it is impossible to deny that it is as fascinating as it is strategic. We are witnessing a first in Mexico’s energy history, and I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be the last.

Flor Dimassi, GlobalSpeakWith more than 18 years experience in translation and interpretation, Flor Dimassi, CEO of Global Speak Translations, stays on the pulse of what is happening in the international oil and gas arena. She turns language and cultural diversity into business opportunities for her clients. Learn more at www.globalspeaktranslations.com.

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