Kano Model Explained For Business

The Kano Model was developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management at the Tokyo University of Science. The Kano Model prioritizes features on a product roadmap according to the degree to which they are likely to satisfy customers. The Kano Model is one of a suite of prioritization frameworks that help product teams prioritize product features. However, it has a strict focus on prioritizing features based on user satisfaction.

Understanding the Kano Model

Through extensive research, Dr. Kano determined the factors most responsible for customer loyalty and satisfaction with the creation of five categories. Each category describes the potential reaction of a customer to a product or service feature – ranging from dissatisfaction to delight.

As a result, teams using the Kano Model must consider new product features according to the potential of each to satisfy customers based on functionality.

The Kano Model feature categories

As noted earlier, the Kano Model identifies five category features based on the reaction of a customer. It’s important to note that customer reactions are based on whether a given product feature is absent (dysfunctional) or present (functional).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each in more detail:

  1. Dissatisfaction features – customers are likely to be upset by the presence of these features, but not dissatisfied if they are absent.
  2. Indifferent features – the presence or absence of these features does not make a perceptible difference in the reaction of the customer. If present, they are simply tolerated.
  3. Basic (threshold) features – or features a product needs to be competitive that customers expect. Turn signals on a new car are one such example. These features are not generally desired by customers but they may dislike not having them. In many situations, these product features are compulsory in that they are essential to the operation of the product.
  4. Excitement features – Kano called these features “delighters” because of their ability to delight and excite customers who weren’t expecting to have them. They often provide an increase in customer delight that is disproportional to the investment required to implement them. Delighters can drive brand loyalty and increase word-of-mouth advertising.
  5. Performance features – encompassing features that where investment is proportionally related to customer satisfaction. Performance features are those that the customer likes having and dislikes not having. As a result of the linear relationship between investment and satisfaction, Kano noted that these features were one-dimensional. Nevertheless, customers use these features to weigh up buying decisions. A phone company that invests in a better network to offer consumers faster browsing speeds is one example of a performance feature.

Key takeaways:

  • The Kano Model is a product feature prioritising framework based on potential customer reaction and satisfaction.
  • The Kano Model is unique among prioritization frameworks because it is solely focused on assessing product features based on their presence (functionality) or absence (dysfunctionality).
  • The Kano Model splits customer reactions to a product feature into five categories: dissatisfaction, indifferent, basic, excitement, and performance. Businesses must avoid the first two categories and focus on categories likely to drive customer loyalty and retention.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"