What Is Kano Prioritization and How to Use It?

Product Management
March 7, 2023
6 mins read

Professor Noriaki Kano created the Kano Model in 1984 to prioritize initiatives based on how much they will contribute to user satisfaction. This framework helps product teams by:

  1. Allowing them to develop the product around their users’ core needs
  2. Ranking their initiatives qualitatively and quantitatively (more on this below)
  3. Making feature prioritization easier and quicker due to the model’s simplicity

In this article, you’ll learn five simple steps to get the most out of the Kano Prioritization technique to help you build products that delight your customers.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the components of the Kano prioritization model to understand it better.

Understanding the Kano Model

You can learn about its construction and working by looking at two crucial elements: the two dimensions and the five categories of features of the Kano Model.

The two dimensions of the Kano Model

As we mentioned in the first sentence of this article, the Kano Model helps product teams prioritize features on the basis of how much they will satisfy the users, one of two dimensions is user satisfaction.

The scale of satisfaction ranges from delight to frustration. The five degrees of satisfaction in decreasing order are: delighted, satisfied, neutral, dissatisfied, and frustrated. You can also use a numbered scale (5 to 1) for simplicity.

The second dimension of the Kano Prioritization Framework is functionality, i.e. how well can an initiative be executed. For instance, if there is a feature that will delight your users but requires you to expand your team and tech stack significantly, it will have a lower functionality score.

The five degrees of functionality in increasing order are: none, some, basic, good, and best. Like the satisfaction scale, you can also adopt a numbered scale for simplicity.

Both of the dimensions can be visualized as:

Two dimensions of the Kano Model Zeda

The five categories of features in Kano Prioritization

Initiatives can be classified into five categories based on the significance of the problem they solve for the user and the product’s vision:

  1. Basic: Users expect these by default 
  2. Performance: This improves how well your product works
  3. Delightful: These features make your users promoters
  4. Neutral: Don’t affect how your user perceives your product
  5. Reverse: Negatively affects the user experience

Let’s look at how you can implement the Kano prioritization framework and dive deeper into each of the above categories of features.

How to use the Kano Prioritization framework

The prioritization technique of the Kano Model helps you rank your initiatives based on your product’s vision and business goals. A thorough understanding of both comes by learning the pain points of your users, which is what the first step is about.

1. Identify your user’s core problem

First things first, your product team must research comprehensively to accurately understand the needs of your users. This gives you the “why” for your product. It will also help you assign a purpose to the Kano prioritization technique which will allow you to measure its impact on your agile product development process.

Interviews, surveys, and polls are a few ways that will help you learn about your users, their problems, how they are impacted, and what they want. It is a good idea to work with the team collaboratively to analyze each of the user responses.

However, that can get challenging when you are gathering user data from a variety of tools and platforms.

Zeda.io helps product managers solve this by collating user responses from multiple sources in real time.

Zeda workflows

2. Ask what they want

In this step, ask your users what they want from your product both in terms of value and also from a tangible standpoint. This will help you visualize the features more clearly which will help you use the Kano prioritization in agile roadmap development.

More importantly, this will tell you the satisfaction level of each potential feature of your product which will help you while using the Kano method for prioritization.

This step involves communicating more with your users on a deeper level and getting to know how they see themselves using your product. Zeda.io facilitates this by conducting user research right from the app where you can communicate with each of your users personally. 

Zeda- feedback and product research

Also, be mindful of focusing on what the users want and need on the functional level first rather than the aesthetic expectations.

3. Categorize features

After listing feature requests (and initiatives) and how they impact user satisfaction, work with your team to classify them into the five categories we mentioned earlier for prioritizing them on the basis of functionality.

The Kano Prioritization Model makes prioritization easier by helping you categorize your tasks even further: 

  1. Basic: These are the features your audience expects. For instance, if you book a hotel room, you would have some minimum expectations like a bed, air conditioning, running water, etc. They are often invisible because they primarily contribute to your product’s architecture rather than offer “direct” added value to users, making them crucial.
  2. Performance: The initiatives that make your product function efficiently fall in this category. For instance, you will always prefer a mobile app that is blazingly fast over one that is sluggish. Initiatives in this category help you improve the user experience.
  3. Delightful: It is the features or functionalities that blow your users away. This is when you deliver the exact solution that your users need. Delightful features bring your users emotionally closer to your brand. An easy way to understand that emotion is to recall what you felt like when you were first using the collaborative features of Google Docs, or more recently, the conversational functionalities of ChatGPT.
  4. Neutral: These are the features that no one wants and that waste your resources. Every feature of your product needs to contribute to the product’s vision and the company’s mission. Product managers should continuously monitor how each of the features is being used and remove the ones that are not in demand.
  5. Frustration: This is where you (unknowingly) squander your budget. When you mistakenly develop a feature that is costing you too much and is decreasing the overall value of your product, kill it. For example, Twitter launched Fleets in 2020 which was killed in less than a year because it failed to deliver any new value.

4. Validate before building

This is where you give your audience a “taste” of your product to ensure you are on the right track. You can build minimum viable products (MVPs) and prototypes based on your hypotheses to show your users how you would help them.

A quick and efficient way to do so is by creating wireframes to give your audience a “feel” of your product which will allow them to share more actionable feedback. You can collaboratively create and exchange feedback on wireframes with your product team in Zeda.io.

Testing wireframe Zeda

Validate your hypotheses even when they are backed by user data to a certain degree. This is because your hypotheses, even when backed by user data, only tell you about the value that your audience needs. Validating them via wireframes, MVPs, or prototypes will help you learn how they need it.

5. Measure and iterate

In this step, you need to closely track your product’s and business performance metrics to evaluate your progress. You can integrate this easily with the Kano Prioritization model by determining metrics that reflect user satisfaction and feature functionality.

For example, if you are developing a messaging app, the number of messages sent by an average user in a day. If you want to add a new feature, development complexity can be denoted by the hours required by the team to build and implement it.

But keeping an eye on these metrics might be challenging for product managers as they are often tracked by multiple tools. Cycling through all of them every day can get tedious and frustrating. Zeda.io simplifies it by bringing data from multiple sources to one place:

Data analytics integration with Zeda dashboard

You can also use the Kano model for prioritizing qualitatively while making quick decisions on which task to work on. For instance, while building a sprint backlog, you might find it difficult to prioritize two tasks that are similar in value and complexity.

Summing up

Kano Prioritization ranks initiatives based on how likely they are to contribute to user satisfaction. Product teams can use this model to prioritize their action items on the basis of user satisfaction and complexity to develop better products faster.

The initiatives can be categorized into five groups in the Kano Model for prioritization: basic, performance, delightful, neutral, and frustration.

You can use the Kano prioritization technique in five steps:

  1. Identify your user’s core problem
  2. Ask them what they want
  3. Categorize features in the five categories
  4. Validate your hypotheses before building the product
  5. Measure and iterate your progress

Prioritization of initiatives depends on how much accurate user data you have and how well your team collaborates. It is, therefore, crucial for product managers to use the right set of tools that will equip their team with the right data at all times.

Zeda.io is a full-coverage product lifecycle management platform. It helps product teams with product discovery, strategy, building, and shipping in one centralized platform.

It is designed to streamline end-to-end product management.

Zeda.io’s integrations with Intercom, Jira, Zendesk, Hubspot, etc., add a layer of automation on mundane tasks that intelligently improve outcomes.

Basically, Zeda.io converts everyday chaos into organized zen for Product Teams.

Start your free trial today.


What is Kano model prioritization?

Kano model prioritization is a framework used in product development to categorize features based on their impact on customer satisfaction and to prioritize them based on their level of importance.

What are Kano's five quality types?

Kano's five quality types are: must-be, one-dimensional (basic), attractive(delightful), indifferent(neutral), and reverse.

What are the 3 major areas of customer satisfaction according to the Kano model?

The three major areas of customer satisfaction according to the Kano model are: basic needs, performance needs, and excitement needs.

What is a Kano model example?

An example of the Kano model is categorizing features of a mobile app, such as a must-have feature of being able to make a call, a performance feature of having fast loading times, and an attractive feature of having personalized recommendations.

Kirti Suri
Product Marketer
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