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Product features prioritization is easy with KANO model

How do you know which product features your customers really want? Which features they cannot live without? Which features they would like? Which features will delight them? To find that out - try the "Kano model" analysis.

"Kano model" is a product development and customer satisfaction theory. It was developed in the 80s by that man, Noriaki Kano,  educator, lecturer, writer and consultant in the field of quality management.


"Kano model" can help you determine the right features for your product. It could help you measure and describe your customer satisfaction level according to each feature of your product. This model consist of the following key elements:

  • Five emotional response types to a product feature 
  • Therefore there are five feature types 
  • Features change type over time 
  • A way to measure customer reactions (emotional responses) 

Five emotional responses

"Kano model" foresee the following emotional responses a customer might have to a certain product feature:
  • Dissatisfied 
  • Disappointed
  • Neutral
  • Satisfied
  • Delighted
Those emotional responses are a part of a Kano model graph. They make the y-axis and the x-axis represents sophistication of a feature in your product. Feature types represented on a graph by curve lines. 

Must-have features

Pretty self-explanatory. Without those features, your product will not be adopted. Your customers expect those features. More of "must-haves" do not equal more satisfaction. 

Unimportant features

Customers simply do not care for those. Include it or not does not really influence satisfaction level.

One-dimensional features

If those present - it satisfies customers. If those absent - it dissatisfies them. The more of those features - the better. 

Attractive features

Customers feel satisfied when those features are present, although they do not feel unsatisfied if those features are absent. Because customers do not expect to find those features in your product. It's a surprise, something unexpected. Maybe they even didn't realize they need those features. 


Undesired features

Those are neglecting the effect of Attractive and One-dimensional features. Not including them would not affect satisfaction level, but if those are present it may trigger dissatisfaction. 

Features change types over time

Your product and your market are constantly evolving. So as features and customer perception of them. What was an attractive feature yesterday is a one-dimensional today and will be a "must-have" tomorrow. Therefore you need to regularly update your Kano model to spot the moment when a feature changes type. 


Measuring customers reaction to features

The script is pretty simple: 
  1. Describe or demonstrate the feature
  2. Ask how would customer feel if this feature was present
  3. Ask how would customer feel if this feature was NOT present
Such paired approach is the key to building a Kano model. 

Response options are along those lines:
  • I like it this way
  • I expect it this way
  • I am neutral 
  • I can tolerate it
  • I dislike it this way
Example: 
- What if "feature 1" was present in the product? 
- I expect it to be present
- What if "feature 1" was NOT present in the product? 
- I dislike it to not be present.
This describes a "must-have" feature.

Kano features evaluation table

Responses you are going to receive by asking the paired questions you then need to analyze using the table below. It will allow you to classify feature types. Horizontal rows represent answers to a positive question, while vertical columns represent answers to a negative question. Intersection represents category type of the feature in question. 

KANO model in action

My favorite example to illustrate the Kano model is a hypothetical hotel. Imagine that your product is a new hotel.  You're about to start building it and currently conducting a study to fill out your Kano table.  
- Dear customer, thank you so much for your eagerness to answer my questions.  Let me start with the following one: would you expect a hot water to be present in your hotel room?
- What a silly question that is? Surely, I would expect hot water to be available. 
- And how would you feel if it will not be present?
- In such case, I will not stay in your hotel and make sure that all my friends would know about it and would avoid your place.
- Thanks a lot for your honest answer.  And how would you feel if we will paint our walls to nice, ambient color?  
- I guess, I would not mind. 
- And if it will not be painted this way? 
- Look, I don't really care about the color of the walls. 
- Great. What about room space? 
- Yeah, I'd like more space in a room. 
- And if it's not? 
- It would bother me, but I can live with that if it's comfortable. Yet more space would make me more comfortable. 
- What if during check in you will receive our exclusive, freshly baked, complementary cookie. How will this make you feel? 
- I like it. That's what I get nowadays in all good hotels. I remember when they did it the first time - it was really nice gestures. Now that is a given.  
- So if you'll not receive a cookie? 
- It would not bother me. 
- Final question: what if we can iron your shirt for you? You leave it in the evening and we deliver it to your door the next morning, perfectly ironed.  That's all for free. 
- That would be... really cool.  My shirts are always getting wrinkled in the suitcase. If that would be an overnight, free service -  that would really be a differentiation. 
- If that service will not be present? 
- I will not notice, will I? You just told me about it, I would not expect it otherwise.  
- Thank you so much,  here is your cookie.

What's in it for me?

When you don't know what features to include in your product or what features your customers will appreciate the most - use Kano model analysis. This structured approach will help you to conduct a research and find out on which features you need to focus on. 

Learn more about Kano model


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