A Case Study of How Singapore Airlines Creates a Memorable Experience by Engaging All Five Senses of Its Customers.


Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman states, up to 95% of consumer behavior/purchase decisions are made subconsciously. Accordingly, when purchasing a product or service, its previous experience will directly affect the customer’s purchase decision. Thus, today many big brands like Coca-Cola, KFC, and Singapore Airlines are focused on selling experiences rather than selling only goods or services. It is clear that enhancing the customer’s psychological satisfaction through a memorable experience can create a strong brand relationship and brand loyalty. Accordingly, Pine and Gilmore (1998) introduced five principles under the concept of experience design to create a memorable experience for the customer. The fifth principle is identified as engaging all five senses.

Fifth Principle: Engage all five senses

According to theoretical definitions, a sense is a stimulus from outside or inside the body through sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch. These senses can create a memory and positive senses help create good memories in the human subconscious. Pine and Gilmore further explained that an experience is a set of memories acquired by all five senses during the consumption of goods or services by the consumer. Therefore, going beyond the traditional marketing media, this fifth principle emphasizes that, if the consumer can have a set of positive experiences through all five senses, it helps to create a powerful memorable experience about the goods or services. In the marketing context, the concept of retail theater or theater experiences explains how to create memorable experiences for customers in the service setting. A retail theater refers to a situation where all elements and touch points of service settings are arranged to create a series of experiences for the customer to have a memorable story.

Pine and Gilmore the experience economy creating a memorable experience

How all five senses connect to create an memorable experience for customers

As a matter of fact, sight, sound, smell, taste or touch have relatively little effect on the quality of goods or services. Also, not all sensations equally impact the customer experience, and some senses can create a negative impact on the business. However, all five senses play a vital role in creating a psychological bond between the brand and the consumer. These experiences created through sensory stimulation not only attract consumer choice but also help differentiate a from other competitor products or services. These memories are stored in customers’ subconscious and eventually become part of their buying habits and purchase decisions.

Experience-based business: Singapore Airlines Case Study

When it comes to Asia’s most powerful brands, one of the first brand names that come to mind is Singapore Airlines. The company always had the reputation of providing the best customer service and is also recognized as a trendsetter in the airline industry. Singapore Airlines have done a lot of innovations over the years to enhance extraordinary customer experience and they were the first airline to offer hot towels on board and provide free drinks in economy class. Therefore, through the big and small innovations over the years, Singapore Airlines has been able to satisfy its customers in various ways and they have proven to be “a great way to fly” as the company’s tagline. Let’s examine how Singapore Airlines has incorporated the concept of engaging all five senses into its service

1. Sight 

Most of the time, the first point of contact with the consumer of any product or service is its brand logo. The brand logo of Singapore Airlines is mainly based on two theme colors blue and yellow. Both colors represent the traditional and cultural heritage of Singapore Airlines and convey to the consumer the royal excellence of its service and expertise in the field. The shape of the brand logo is a bird inspired by a dagger in local folklore known as the Silver Kris, and Kris means “Blade of Glory” in Singaporean. Accordingly, a strong sense of royalty and luxury has been created in the customer’s mind through the brand logo. 

The most prominent visual point of Singapore Airlines is the “Singapore Girl” who represents their cabin crew. All the Singapore Girl stewardesses are dressed in very glamorous and elegant traditional Silk Kebaya and the staff are divided into four main colors according to their duties and positions. All stewardesses are young girls of Asian descent, and their all outfits, facial appearance, and hairstyles are determined by the company. As a result, the distinctive visual impression of the stewardesses has enabled Singapore Airlines to differentiate itself from many other airlines. 

Furthermore, all the interiors and the floor carpet inside the aircraft are designed according to the Kabayas of the stewardesses. Also, the lighting system of the aircraft is set to change according to time zones and mealtimes. For example, during mealtime, the cabin creates a restaurant-style ambiance lighting, and in other cases, it creates lighting that makes it easier for the passenger to sleep and relax. 

2. Smell

One of the most impressive things a passenger feels when entering a Singapore Airlines flight is the unique aroma. All the cabin crew uses an officially branded Singapore Airlines perfume and the passengers will feel the same unique scent through the air conditioning system of the aircraft. This perfume is called Stefan Floridian Waters fragrance and it is specially designed to evoke feelings of luxury and relaxation. Generally, a passenger who has traveled on Singapore Airlines has this scent lingering on their body for a long time and thus that unique scent has been able to remind them of the experience even after the journey.

Local Singaporean cuisines are rich in smell and Singapore Airlines offers passengers a choice of their popular local meals as well as Western meals. The aircraft staff deliberately heats these meals so that the aroma spreads throughout the cabin and It is expected to increase the passenger’s appetite.

3. Touch

The magazines provided by Singapore Airlines from their KrisShop are printed on high-quality A4 gloss paper and It is physically equivalent to the most expensive and quality magazines in the world. Therefore, touching and using such magazines can create a sense of luxury and modern lifestyle in the minds of passengers. Moreover, the interior of the cabin is covered with a very strong plastic shell which prevents the passengers from feeling the extreme cold coming through the metal parts from outside. The passenger seats are designed with a very comfortable cushioned body and the cabin floor is carpeted with expensive fiber carpets. With this arrangement, the company has attempted to make the passengers feel like they are in their living room during the journey.

4. Sound

Singapore Airlines has arranged to provide headphones to passengers instead of earphones to reduce external noise during the flight. Additionally, passengers can experience the world’s most popular songs with high-quality sound from the Kris Entertainment system to their preference during the journey.

As mentioned earlier, young girls of Asian descent serve as Singaporean Girls’ cabin crew. They are specially trained in different languages and dedicated to building good communication with passengers. Generally, when a person speaks the other person’s native language with a different local accent, it is a curious pleasure, and the conversation is more likely to be remembered by that person. Therefore, conversation with Singaporean Girls can be quite an interesting and memorable experience for the passengers.

5. Taste 

As previously mentioned, Singapore Airlines will provide passengers with their local as well as Western food and beverage menus and those menus will be changed monthly to enhance the onboard dining experience. Passengers are also provided with the facility of pre-booking their preferred meal menu online before the journey. All meals on Singapore Airlines are provided by award-winning in-flight catering giant SATS. They are an organization with over 40 years of experience in food taste, quality, safety, allergens, and cultural aspects. Also, Singapore Airlines is one of the airlines that offers the largest free selection of beverages for passengers. According to Tripadvisor, one of the world’s most popular online travel platforms, Singapore Airlines has received customer ratings of 4 out of 5 for food and beverage


In conclusion, the analysis suggests that Singapore Airlines is able to create a retail theater or theater experience through all the above-mentioned five sensations, and ultimately, it helps to create a memorable experience for the customers. However, in practice, all five senses mentioned above may not be equally effective for every experience-based business and some combinations of senses may conflict with each other. Even in the Singapore Airlines example, it is clear that the company is more effective in the sensation of Sight, Smell, and Taste compared to the other two senses of Sound and Touch. Therefore, depending on the nature of the business, it should be analyzed which sense is working effectively and which sense should be given more priority to improve the memorable experience of the customer.


Pine, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H. (1998) ‘Welcome to the experience economy’, Harvard business review, Reprint 98407, pp. 97–105. Available at: https://hbr.org/1998/07/welcome-to-the-experience-economy