Kano analysis measures customer perceptions of product or service features, and classifies them based on satisfaction with the product according to the presence or absence of a feature.
Developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano in the 1980s, the Kano Model establishes that products can possess four different kinds of attributes:
- Threshold features (“dissatisfiers”): The bare minimum of what customers expect in a product. If one of these basic attributes is missing, it will cause customer dissatisfaction.
- Performance features (“satisfiers”): Additional features which are not strictly necessary, but will increase a customer’s satisfaction when they are present. These are “known” attributes, that customers can identify and demand. When customers compare different products on the market, they usually weigh different performance features.
- Excitement features (“delighters”): Something that a customer may not necessarily identify as a desired feature, but that is enormously satisfactory when present. These features go above and beyond typical expectations, and are often innovations that create buzz and push the boundaries of the market.
- Indifferent: Features customers do not care about at all.
These expectations vary from one customer to another, and as the model demonstrates, evolve over time. An innovative feature will ultimately become an expected, threshold feature. For example, touchscreen phones thrilled the market when they first appeared in the late 1990s. Now, most consider touchscreen technology to be a threshold need, in fact most customers would be dissatisfied with a phone that did not have a touchscreen. Today, wireless charging is a cutting-edge perk, but before long will likely become an expected standard feature.
Kano analysis applied to a household washing machine:
- Threshold features: Adjustable temperature and wash cycle dials. It cannot leak or damage clothing.
- Performance features: High-efficiency technology, additional wash cycles, and premium finishes. The seller might offer an extended warranty, or sell discounted washer-dryer sets.
- Excitement features: A customer could be delighted with a washer that also functions as a dryer, or that can be remotely controlled with a smartphone app. They may not have known that they wanted a washing machine with BlueTooth, but its presence increases their satisfaction with the product.
By identifying which features customers value the most, Kano analysis can help determine which features to include in a product to meet both spoken and unspoken customer needs. It is flexible, subtle model that can ultimately help maximize profits through identifying and prioritizing product features and informing long-term product strategies.