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How can I use the Kano Model to Improve my Product?


We will not tire of highlighting the importance of listening to customers to understand them and give them the best experience, without a doubt it is something essential that any company that aspires to be successful must have among its obsessions, listening to the customer. There are many ways to listen to a customer. As in any context of a conversation, the questions define the background of the answers.

The client and what he tells us is primary, and we must translate it in some way. Our CEM Framework escorts client with the three pillars that support experience and towards which we direct our five elements of management of the same, all of this encompassed in the strategy. However, this time we are going to discriminate and focus exclusively on one of the pieces, one of these fundamental pillars: the product.

Thus, the Kano model provides us with the ideal questions and a simple and effective methodology to understand and apply customer responses to the development of our product.

What is the Kano Model?

If you do not know the Kano model, I invite you to read our previous article: What is the Kano Model? If you know it, let me add, very briefly, that this theory connects product development with customer satisfaction, which allows understanding the impact of the attributes of the product or service in this satisfaction. Besides, it does so under the consideration that the factors that influence satisfaction have a non-linear behaviour, that is, those factors that produce satisfaction may not be the same ones that make dissatisfaction.

Kano classifies quality attributes into five categories. Perhaps we are used to a classification of features into three (basic, performance and exciting) due to the modifications of the model. However, when we apply the methodology, we can find five different behaviours:

• One-dimensional (performance) quality: concerning those attributes that produce satisfaction when they are fulfilled and dissatisfaction when they are not fulfilled. They are linear and positively related to customer satisfaction.
• Attractive (exciting) quality: attributes whose absence does not generate dissatisfaction, but their presence satisfies the customer.
• Must-be (basic) quality: attributes whose presence does not generate satisfaction, but its absence causes dissatisfaction.
• Indifferent quality: the presence or absence of these attributes do not cause any satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the clients.
• Reverse quality: the presence of these attributes causes dissatisfaction among customers, and their absence produces satisfaction.

One of the strengths of this method is undoubtedly the dynamic cycle of these attributes. The attributes that we consider today to be of attractive quality, over time can become one-dimensional or even of must-be quality.

Having laid the foundations, let us go back to the title of the article, how can I put the Kano Model into practice?
For the application of the model, we use an attribute classification method based on a structured questionnaire on a couple of questions, one that we will call functional, and the other dysfunctional.

• The functional question seeks the assessment of the consumer if the attribute is present in the product or service. It would be, how would you feel if the product had…? or how would you feel if there was more of…?
• The dysfunctional question, on the other hand, obtains its assessment when the attribute is not present in the product or service. How would you feel if the product did not have…? or how would you feel if there was less of...?

In this way, in our questionnaire, for each of the attributes that we want to investigate, we must have these two types of question. The consumer will be able to choose between five possible answers for both:

1. I like it.
2. I expect it.
3. I am neutral.
4. I can live with it.
5. I dislike it.

Then, once we have obtained the answers, for the analysis, we use a specific evaluation table. Where the model includes the five quality categories: attractive (A), one-dimensional (O), must-be (M), indifferent (I) or reverse (R). Besides, an additional element is added, which is not a quality category, but a classification element: questionable (Q) useful to represent an error in the interpretation of the questions; then seeing the evaluation table we will understand it clearly.

With this table, for each attribute, we can quickly interpret the answers we get to our pair of questions. For example, when asked how you feel if your vehicle incorporates assisted parking, the consumer tells us that in the presence of the functionality, they like it. However, to the dysfunctional question, that is, to the absence of assisted parking, he answers that he can live with it. Therefore, we locate response within the table above, in row one (like) and column four (live with), so for this customer, assisted parking is an attractive quality attribute. You are happy to have it, but not having it does not mean dissatisfaction.

Once we obtain consumer's responses, we consolidate them for each of the attributes, allowing us to establish, which is the predominant category in each case. We see it below:

At this point, we will have already been able to determine the quality category of each of our attributes, and we will be able to prioritize those fundamental to the client, without which the product or service would be unsatisfactory and enhance those that generate greater satisfaction.

Also, with the responses consolidated in the last table, we can prioritize even among the attributes of the same category, since suppose a case in which we have a limited budget for the development of the product, and we have to rule out the inclusion of an attractive attribute of the two that we have evaluated. Both are A category, but attribute one has obtained 60% of responses that qualify it as attractive and 40% as indifferent. On the other hand, the second gets 60% of responses that are eligible as attractive and 40% as one-dimensional. That is, for the first, 60% of people would feel satisfied to have it included in their product, and 40% would not care. On the other hand, with the second attribute, 100% of customers would be satisfied to have it (only here we could conclude), and 40% would feel dissatisfied not to have it in their product. Looking at it like this, the focus of the investment will be for the second attribute. I leave you the visualization of the example:

Suppose this dance of percentages and its conclusion has become apparent. In that case, it is that we have already mastered the interpretation of the Kano Model. Now, I can only encourage you to put it into practice, but not before concluding.

Advantages/disadvantages of classifying customer needs by the Kano methodology.


1. The needs of the product or service are better understood since we can identify the elements of the product with the most significant influence on customer satisfaction.
2. Classification of the attributes of the product or service as must-be, one-dimensional and attractive allows us to establish the priorities of the development of the product or service.
3. Suppose for reasons of financial resources or technical limitations; we cannot fully satisfy the needs of customers. In that case, Kano allows us to identify the criteria with the most significant influence on customer satisfaction.
4. If we ask different buyer personas or segments, the qualification of the attributes can determine specific needs for each buyer persona.
5. Knowing and enhancing attractive quality attributes allows you to create a differentiating product or service.
6. The Kano model can be combined with the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology.


1. The Kano model approximates customer satisfaction concerning the level of performance of the product or service since it is based on a qualitative evaluation of attributes approach.
2. Kano allows a better understanding of the needs of customers, necessary for the design of a product, but it is not definitive for making concrete decisions. The model does not allow us to differentiate the impact between attributes of the same category. Do all features of attractive quality have the same effect on customer satisfaction? No, we only know that they impact, but it does not tell us which is the one that generates the highest peak of pleasure when being present. In our example of assisted parking, we do not know if it is an extremely attractive attribute or a somewhat attractive one.

Author: Jaime Hernández.

A. Shahin y col. Typology of Kano models: a critical review of literature and proposition of a revised model. In: International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management 30.3 (2013), pages. 341-358.