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Boeing and Google in Southeast Asia (especially Vietnam): Globalization at its best

Updated on December 5, 2012

Boeing and Google: Culturally Responsive Marketing

Culturally responsive marketing in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam


The purpose of this study is to investigate the role and effect of globalization within the culture of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and to note how two multi-national corporations, The Boeing Company and Google, have approached the task of culturally responsive marketing there. It is hypothesized that effective culturally responsive marketing by MNCs results in increased marketing performance and customer satisfaction over time. Vietnam, and the Southeast Asian sector in general, is evolving rapidly, and according to the US-ASEAN Business Council, they have delivered proven business results with Vietnam’s GDP for 2010 at $200 billion and the combined GDP for ASEAN at $1.5 trillion. The marketing policies and practices of Boeing and Google are proven examples of successful approaches within Southeast Asia. This case study of the culturally responsive marketing characteristics of Boeing and Google illustrates how these two MNCs approach problems that others will face as they consider globalization in Vietnam or Southeast Asia.


Wurtz, E. (2005) has brought to our attention how a popular framework was proposed by Edward Hall (1976, 2000), in which he states that all cultures can be situated to one another through the styles in which they communicate (p. 1). She made this observation in her observation of High-Context and Low-Context countries. However, if we look at individual MNCs we will note that these organizations also differ from each other in terms of organizational cultures. It is important for us to keep in mind, as we study the Boeing Company and Google, that their organizations cultures are different, their products or services are different, therefore, the ways in which they approach globalization and marketing will be different. There are principles that all companies attempting to practice culturally responsive marketing should know as the approach Vietnam, however, and this useful information is what we are trying to illustrate as we consider a case study of Boeing and Google.

Boeing Company sells products that cost large sums of money to other companies or to governments. For the sake of simplifying the study only one Boeing product was considered for review, the Boeing 787 Dream-liner, Boeing’s newest, flag-ship product. The basic Boeing 787-8 Dream-liner, which is a midsized, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner that carries 210-250 passengers cost $157,000,000.00 to $176,000,000.00. One does not use the normal channels of advertising and marketing to sell these high priced products in Vietnam. Upper management within the Boeing Company and political leaders in governments are involved in “closing the deals” so to speak. Culturally responsive marketing, at its best, at all levels is essential when one has to compete against other MNCs, even very well run organizations such as Airbus, to be successful as a business, which means company growth.

Google is engaged in a raging internet battle with its chief competitor, Facebook, for the domination of the internet, literally. Helft, B. & Hempel, J. (2011, November) noted in a recent Fortune article that it’s highly unlikely that either Google or Facebook can grow by the billions that investors expect in the display market without engaging directly and stealing market share from the other (p. 117). My studies into how Google have already established itself as a dominate force in Southeast Asia already, well ahead of Facebook, it is unlikely that Google will be over-taken by Facebook or any other competitor in the foreseeable future.

We notice the obvious fact that The Boeing Company is in an industry where technology is primary focus of marketing or sales. The engines must be powerful, yet quiet and efficient. The cabin must be spacious and comfortable with feel of quality in aviation. Google prides itself as being a technology driven organization as opposed to being a social networking company the likes of Facebook. Helft et al. (2011, November) quotes Paul Adams, one of the greatest social researchers in the Silicon Valley, who work for Google, as saying, “Google values technology, not social science”(p. 116).

Critical, Analytical, and Reflective Analysis

Kesmodel, D. (2011, October) reported on the world’s first charter passenger flight of the Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner by All Nippon Airways Company (p. B4). Kesmodel says ANA has ordered fifty-five 787s and plans to use the new aircraft as a way to become the leading airline in Asia. Boeing delivered its first Dreamliner to launch customer All Nippon Airways Co. of Japan more than three years behind the jet maker’s original schedule according to Kesmodel. Mayerowitz, S. (2011, November) reports China Eastern Airlines recently canceled its $3 billion order for 24 of the long-delayed planes, citing the manufacturing delays (finance. Yahoo). China and Japan have been briefly note on this study on illustrate one of the culturally responsive behavior traits (Hofstede’s Long Term Orientation (LTO). Asians cultures, as a rule, normally displays behavior that is consistent with high LTO, which includes delivering on social obligation and avoiding “loss of face.” They reward perseverance, loyalty, and commitment (mindtools, p. 5). Above, in the case of Japan’s ANA, even though the airliners were very late on delivery, the contract was still honored. In the case of China the situational outcome was different. Behind the scene there are some ill feeling between the leaders of China and the U.S with relationships being strained. There was a situation recently involving direct contact between China’s leader and the U.S.A.’s President Obama that may have resulted in a “loss of face” on the part of China’s leader. This could easily explain the reason for the cancellation of the $3 billion order, with any other excuse being adequate. It is important to reiterate Vietnam and other Southeast Asian counties, with a strong link to Confucian philosophy, value long-standing traditions and values as opposed to short term ones.

It is important to mention that Boeing has a large and comprehensive marketing section that is global in scope. This Market Analysis Team is dispersed though out Boeing’s global operation and helps market every airplane sold by the company. In addition to the Market Analysis there is regional headquarters in Southeast Asia. In a PrintThis article (2011) we note that Paul Walters has been recently appointed to the position of “regional vice president, Southeast Asia, The Boeing Company,” where he is responsible for coordinating all company business activities in a number of countries in that region (including Vietnam). In this article is also mentioned that Phil Condit, chief executive officer—The Boeing Company reported “Asia is a vibrant, growing economic power and home to an increasing number of important customers and partners. Paul will help us to further develop these relationships.” Relationships, this is the key to Boeing’s success with customers. Most of Boeing’s customers already exist and the key is in the process of growing these relationships in a way that will increase business and prevent customer lost to rivals. The Boeing Company works closely with Asian aerospace industry organizations including the region’s armed forces and leading airlines. As noted there is a manufacturing joint venture in Malaysia, and commercial airplane sales are active inThailand and Vietnam, and satellite sales are occurring in Indonesia.

When one knows the five dimensions of the culture that one is working with, in this case, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian counties, one is better prepared to build the relationship that the Boeing Company places high value on.

When we consider the infrastructure and approaches to marketing in Southeast Asia used by Google we note that they are entrenched within the culture and growth is progressing well. The publication, Business Vietnam (1996) reported advertising in a new concept in Vietnam, and at five years before that time (1991) the only advertising was at trade fairs (p. 1). The billboard industry was the first advertising method to thrive then cam TV advertising. TV advertising continues to be a major approach to advertising but online advertising, according to Bernard, L. (2009) has positioned itself to become the most dominant business model in all of the Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam (2009). Bernard mentioned how Yahoo! and Microsoft , like Google, have established a presence in the Southeast Asian market and have pursued a strategy of sales and marketing, instead of taking into account “localization” and act to harness the greater market potential of these Southeast marketplaces. (p. 1).

In a recent Fortune cover article, called Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web,” by Helft, M. & Hempel, J., (2011, November) the authers note that “the rivalry between the tech titans is heating up. At Stake? Hundreds of billions of dollars—and the chance to rule the online world” (p. 115).

Google, under the leadership of CEO Larry Page, is going to carry on, business as usual,within the context of Southeast Asia and Vietnam. Facebook, under the leadership of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is positioned to move into Southeast Asia with a different marketing orientation than Google’s. Helft et al. (2011) says Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and its CEO since April, was born 11 years before Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, but the two belong to different Internet generations and they have different worldviews (p. 166). One notes that Zuckerberg’s approach, a more social approach to doing business on the web is going to affect the web globally in a major shift. It is interesting how Helft et al. (2011) forecasts the future well by noting that “the first industries to be rocked: advertising, is going to impact Google directly. Google’s 41% share of today’s $31 billion U.S. online advertising market is a major share of the search-ad market, but growth in the search advertising approach is slowing. Advertisers are putting more of their limited dollars into Facebook. Facebook has 800 million users who spend most of their time on Facebook, as opposed to spending time on other sites” (p. 117. One can readily grasp the adverse effects that the changes mentioned above is going to have on Google’s business when one considers.


We have observed that the two companies, The Boeing Company and Google, differ, primarily in the value of the products and services that they make available to customers. One must use a different approach to marketing when one is sell a product that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, as opposed to selling products and services that cost few hundred dollars or less. Boeing markets their products to other MNCs or governments of countries. Theories such as Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions continue to hold true in all situation where insights on people living as a part of different cultures.

Google’s situation is different in the sense that a manager can set at his or her desk in the U.S.A. and do globalization work in Vietnam, across the distance, via cyberspace. Winkler, R.(2011, November) says, even though Facebook has mapped more social connections that anyone else, when it comes to social advertising on the wider web, Google actually may have the advantage (p. B16, WSJ). He tells us that social advertising is the cyber equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing. We know that Facebook has over 800 million active users, whereas, Google has only 40 million users (Winkler, p. B16). But he notes that Google has a secret weapon when it comes to mapping social connections: Gmail. Gmail has hundreds of millions of users globally. Many regular Gmail users have hundreds of contacts.

In an environment such as Southeast Asia, and in Vietnam specifically, Hofstede’s cultural dimension of Individualism (IDV) may help to play an important role in Google’s success with the Gmail advantage. Since the Vietnamese culture has a low IDV there is strong cohesion in the country and there is a large amount of loyalty and respect for members of the group(mindtools, p. 2). Within the greater Vietnamese society people take more responsibility for one other’s well being. When we consider the input of Edward T. Hall and understand his theory of high-context and low-context cultures, and realize that Vietnam has a high-context culture this also helps to support Googles’ effort to implement a culturally responsive marketing system there. Hall’s input helps us to see that the Vietnamese have a highcommitment to long-term relationships, and that relationships are more important than tasks. In the Vietnamese society, time is open and flexible and “the process” is more important than “the product.” Gmail will help Google to compete more successfully against Facebook in Vietnam because they have established Gmail and Google services, already, ahead of Facebook, and the Vietnamese tend to be loyal in relationships, business and otherwise, according to Hall’s theory.

At this point in the paper, it become clear that The Boeing Company and Google, have taken different approaches to marketing their products and services in Southeast Asia, and in Vietnam specifically, because there is such a great difference between the products and services that they offer. However, each company must still use principles, that is the science, that have been handed down to us by those such as Geert Hofstede, Edward T. Hall, and others. We are more successful, we make fewer mistakes, and our jobs are easier when we use the methodologies that these masters have given to us.


My recommendation, in the case of The Boeing Company, is simply to continue down the pathway that they are following in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. The must keep the“ship on a steady course,” so to speak, to avoid running the ship aground. Even a great ship will sink if he or she strikes a great iceberg at sea.

My recommendation, in the case of Google is to take advantage of stranglehold that they already have on the cyberspace social advertising industry, in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world by holding fast to their mission. Since this idea, of holding fast to one’s mission is so important to me, a good deal of space will be used to write about it. Google should not forget what its mission is or forget about what it was that made them great. Drucker, P., Collins, J., Kotler, P., Kouzes, J., Rodin, J., Rangan, V. & Hesselbein, H. (2008) when they said, “A mission cannot be impersonal; it has to have deep meaning, be something you believe in—something you know is right. A fundamental responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everybody knows the mission, understands it, lives it” (p. 13).

Google has made greater inroads into Southeast Asia than any of the other businesses that are considered their competitors, including Facebook. On the Google website (2011) one of the co-founders Larry Page, reminds us, in an indirect way, of one of Googles’s key mission components. He says, “The perfect search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.” The primary mission, of pursuing the perfect search engine has made Google successful. Google’s website reports that the company was founded in 1998 with this mission, “to perfect the search engine.” Since the company’s founding, Google’s mission has evolved to the point where the “search engine” component of the mission appears less important than some of the other activities that one sees the company marketing. Thereare other services such as finance, news, markets, portfolios, stock screening, and website building associated with Google. Retail outlets and advertising services are provided by Google.

A more recent mission statement being advanced by Google on their website says, "Google’s mission: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Again, this idea of having a mission and keeping it in the forefront so that everybody in the company can see it, and act on it, on every significant move that the company make is a critical issue for the success of a company is worth repeating. To repeat the one reference in this paper on a company’s mission, again, from Drucker et al. (2008), “a fundamental responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everybody knows the mission, understands it, and lives it” (p. 13). So far, as Google has evolved, it appears that the leadership at Googleknows their mission and practices management in a manner that meets the standards of Drucker et al. (2008).

Another recommendation is practice more effectively the concepts of standardization and customization, even though they have done very well in this regard in the pass.

Some time was spent on dealing with mission because it helps us to see how Google practices standardization of the services that they provide. When one contemplates the many services that Google provides, online, one can easily lose sight of Google’s mission, but they (that is, Google themselves) have not lost sight of it. With Google, everything hinges on the idea of “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful,” and universally means globally, everywhere in the world, even in my “study country” of Vietnam. However, Google have not forgotten that people in different locations, or countries, have different cultures. Google has knowledgeable management teams working for them, who know how to use theories passed down by Hofstede and other researchers, and they know that customization has its place in the product design, the provision of services, and in advertising approaches. As one goes online, surfing the web (googling), and using other Google services, one can see applications of standardization and customization in practice, coming alive, and producing results in internet time and space.

Customization can also be seen in the “Google Corporate Culture” as it exists globally. Google has offices around the world, according to their website reports, and dozens of languages are spoken by Google staffers. This mix of staffers reflects the global audience that Google serves. For example, in a Southeast Asian context, such as Vietnam, people who speak Vietnamese, live in Vietnam, and understand the culture and how marketing takes place there, will have input, as members of the management team, and can help in the process of forwarding Google’s mission.

It is interesting how Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have assembled an organization that has grown to more than 20,000 people worldwide, that includes a team of one of the world’s most experienced technology professionals. Diversification can be seen at all levels of the company, even at the board of directors’ level.

It was difficult for me to see how everything that Google was doing fit into the broad mission of “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” when I look at some of their services such as YouTube. Efrati, A. (2011) says YouTube, the world’s largest video site, is putting up more than $100 million in cash advances to get some of the content for their ‘channels’ produced. Efrati notes that YouTube had more than 600 million unique visitors worldwide last month, according to comScore Inc., and it is expected t generate more than $1 billion in net revenue this year, up more than $500 million last year, according to Citigroup Inc. analyst Mark Mahaney.

Southeast Asia is a huge market for Google, in advancing their YouTube adventure. Google appears to be able to strike the right balance, of mixing of standardization and customization in Southeast Asia to hold on to their lead in this market niche. Mobile phones are making inroads into the Vietnamese culture in such a way as to further increase Google’s market share of the social advertising industry. (2011, November 05) reported S-Fone as to become Vietnam’s second mobile service joint venture. Facebook, Google’s chief competitor, is positioning itself for a move into the Vietnamese market. As noted earlier in this paper, Winkler, R. (2011, November 26-27) notes that social advertising is the cyber equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, which is important, because a recommendation from a friend is both effective and free. Also, as noted earlier in this paper, Facebook has mapped more social connections than anyone else. We also stated earlier in the paper, that because of Google’s email advantage over Facebook, this give Google a marked advantage.


Benton, S. (1996). Vietnam’s first marketing JV. Asian Business, 32(6), 24. Retrieved from http://search.

Boeing picks M’sia as Southeast Asian headquarters. (2002, August). The Financial Times Limited. Retrieved from

Drucker, P., Collins, J., Kotler, P., Kouzes, J., Rodin, J., Rangan, V., & Hesselbein, F. (2008). The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Helft, M. & Hempel, J. (2011, November). Facebook vs. Google: the battle for the future of the web. Fortune, 164(8), 114-124.

Kesmodel, D. (2011, October). Boeing pares delivery plan. The Wall Street Journal, B4.

S-Fone to become Vietnam’s second mobile service joint venture (2011, November 5). Retrieved from http://www.vietnambusiness.asi

Usunier, J. & Lee, J. (2005). Marketing across cultures (4th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Winkler, R. (2011, November 26-27). Google +1 looks to crash Facebook gathering. The Wall Street Journal, p. B16.


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