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What is a KANO MODEL? Why is it so important in Product Management?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

In this article, we will explain the basics of KANO model in a fun and practical way.

The dilemma of a Product Manager

Case in Point:

Everybody, including your team, prospects, customers, and stakeholders, want new features.


You cannot make every feature right now.

The Logical Way:

You know that you shouldn’t put every suggested feature, cause that will create a Chimera. But, how will you prioritize which features to work on and which feature to drop?

Thanks to the KANO model you can systematically decide.

What is a KANO Model?

Noriaki Kano, a Japanese consultant, published a paper in 1984 with techniques that help us determine our customers’ satisfaction with product features.

It is based on 2 variables, Customer Satisfaction & Functionality (aka. Investment).

1.Satisfaction: Kano proposes a dimension that goes from total satisfaction (also called Delight and Excitement) to total dissatisfaction (or Frustration).

2.Functionality (Investment) involves Implementation, it represents how much of a given feature the customer gets, how well we’ve implemented it, or how much we’ve invested in its development.

Graphical Representation of KANO:

Feature evaluated using KANO Model can be classified into 4 categories based on customers’ responses towards the feature.

We have Attractive that customer loves, Performance which customer expect, Must-be which is taken for granted, and Indifferent which nobody cares.

Category 1: Performance

One-dimensional attributes such as “Speed of a Car”, “Mileage of a Bike”, “Storage Space of Google Drive”, “Longer Life of a battery”, etc fall under this category.

Every increase in functionality leads to increased satisfaction and vice-versa.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the more functionality we add, the bigger the investment.

Category 2: Must Be

Taken-for-granted or Expected features such as Camera in Smartphones, Air Condition in Cars, Water bottle in Hotel rooms, Pay via Credit card in an App, etc falls under “Must Be

These features don’t create customer satisfaction, but their absence surely creates huge dissatisfaction.

Imagine buying a phone in a hurry just to find later that it doesn’t have Bluetooth.

Category 3: Attractive

Features that create “WOW Factors” among customers such as “90 Hz screen refresh rate in Smartphone”, “Automatic Climate control in a Car”, “No-Cost-EMI on Ecommerce”, etc. fall under “Attractive”.

These features increase customer satisfaction incrementally.

It differentiates you from the competition. It becomes your Unique Selling Proposition.

Category 4: Indifferent

Features that don’t matter to end-user such as “Colour of wires in the refrigerator”, “Brand of TV in a Hotel Room”, “Type of Dishwasher in a restaurant”, etc. fall under “Indifferent

Spending time and money on these features should be avoided unless it produces some secondary/indirect benefits.

E.g., Bosch’s dishwasher reduces 25% of electricity consumption in your kitchen.

Natural Decay of Delight:

As product development proceeds, product features evolve.

Yesterday’s “Attractive feature” becomes today’s “Performance” feature and today’s “Performance” feature become tomorrow’s “Must-be”

E.g. In 2007 when iPhone brought Retina Display, it WOWed the world. It was a very “attractive” feature in 2007. Today it become a “Must-Be” for every phone.

KANO Model in a Nutshell:

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