How to use the Kano Model in product development

Posted on September 30, 2011 by


The Kano model is a theory of product development developed in the 80’s by Professor Noriaki Kano which classifies customer preferences into five categories:

  1. Attractive quality: Attractive quality attributes can be described as surprise and delight attributes; they provide satisfaction when achieved fully, but do not cause dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. These are attributes that are not normally expected, for example, a thermometer on a package of milk showing the temperature of the milk. Since these types of quality attributes often unexpectedly delight customers, they are often unspoken. An example of this is W. Edwards Deming’s statement: “The customer never asked Mr. Edison for a light bulb”. As a six sigma practitioner do you emphasise the importance of attractive quality creation since? Often this dimension is neglected as there is a tendency to focus on how to eliminate things gone wrong.
  2. One-dimensional quality: One-dimensional quality attributes result in satisfaction when fulfilled and dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. These attributes are spoken and are those with which companies compete. For example, a new milk package that is said to contain 10 percent more milk for the same price is likely to result in customer satisfaction, but if it actually only contains 6 percent more milk, it is likely that the customer will feel misled, which results in dissatisfaction.
  3. Must-be quality: Must-be quality attributes are taken for granted when fulfilled but result in dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. In the milk example, these attributes can be represented by leakage. Customers are dissatisfied when the package leaks, but when it does not leak the result is not increased customer satisfaction. Since customers expect these attributes and views them as basic, it is unlikely that they are going to tell the company about them when asked about quality attributes.
  4. Indifferent quality: Indifferent quality refers to aspects that are neither good nor bad, and, consequently, they do not result in either customer satisfaction or customer dissatisfaction.
  5. Reverse quality: Reverse quality refers to a high degree of achievement resulting in dissatisfaction (and vice versa, a low degree of achievement resulting in satisfaction) and to the fact that not all customers are alike. For example, some customers prefer high-tech products, while others prefer the basic model of a product and will be dissatisfied if a product has too many extra features.

Application of the Kano Model Analysis
A simple approach to applying the Kano Model Analysis is to ask customers two simple questions for each attribute:

1. Rate your satisfaction if the product has this attribute?; and
2. Rate your satisfaction if the product did not have this attribute?

Customers should be asked to answer with one of the following responses:

A) Satisfied;
B) Neutral (Its normally that way);
C) Dissatisfied;
D) Don’t care.

Basic attributes generally receive the “Neutral” response to Question 1 and the “Dissatisfied” response to Question 2. Exclusion of these attributes in the product has the potential to severely impact the success of the product in the marketplace.

Eliminate or include performance or excitement attributes that their presence or absence respectively lead to customer dissatisfaction. This often requires a trade-off analysis against cost. As Customers frequently rate most attributes or functionality as important, asking the question “How much extra would you be willing to pay for this attribute or more of this attribute?” will aid in trade-off decisions, especially for performance attributes. Prioritisation matrices can be useful in determining which excitement attributes would provide the greatest returns on Customer satisfaction.

Consideration should be given to attributes receiving a “Don’t care” response as they will not increase customer satisfaction nor motivate the customer to pay an increased price for the product. However, do not immediately dismiss these attributes if they play a critical role to the product functionality or are necessary for other reasons than to satisfy the customer.

The information obtained from the Kano Model Analysis, specifically regarding performance and excitement attributes, provides valuable input for the Quality Function Deployment process.

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