What is Kano Prioritisation and How to use it?

Product Management
July 6, 2022
14 mins read

The Kano prioritisation model is a strategy for prioritising outstanding activities based on customer satisfaction. There will undoubtedly be a considerable number of featured items in the product backlog. However, it is unnecessary to complete them all quickly to produce quality output. The product teams add relevant and necessary tasks to their product roadmap using the Kano model, based on the projected level of satisfaction and cost.

Teams may easily pick which featured item to pursue using the Kano prioritising technique. In this instance, the customer's satisfaction is given first attention. Many product managers use the Kano model to organise product features into categories and prioritise them. They usually divide characteristics into several categories, such as those that clients would enjoy and those that will disappoint them.

Few other models prioritise client satisfaction as a primary consideration. In comparison, the Kano model is rather distinctive. Although other models incorporate customer happiness as a factor, the Kano model is the only one that prioritises it.

History of the kano prioritisation model

So, let’s look at the history of the Kano model. 

Where did this Kano prioritisation model come from? 

Dr. Noriaki Kano created this model in 1984, more than 30 years ago. He came up with this prioritisation model while examining the aspects that affect customer satisfaction as a Professor of Quality Management at the Tokyo University of Sciences.

Some assume that the more features a product offers, the more satisfied a customer will be. However, according to Dr. Noriaki, this is not the case. He demonstrated that some features will never benefit customers.

And there are some features which don't make much of a difference to the customer's enjoyment if they were present, but their absence was felt keenly. These were called as the 'basic' characteristics.

Similarly, the Kano model divides customer satisfaction into five categories. Product managers can prioritise features based on this model. 

What are kano's 5 types of quality?

The Kano model is well-known for its ease of segmenting new features by consumer satisfaction levels. Customer preferences are categorised into five categories by Noriaki Kano, which may overlap with customer needs.

Must-have quality

The customer expects certain features. When they are not present, dissatisfaction can be high. For instance, cleaning dishes in a restaurant, turning lights on in a car, and a web page that loads quickly.

Excellent quality

Customers are satisfied when they experience these product or service features. Customers are not disappointed if these features are lacking. These are "unexpected" aspects of a product or service—for instance, hotel room towel swans or a second free trial month for an app.

1D quality

When these traits are present, they result in client happiness. Meanwhile, their absence may cause unhappiness among customers. Companies employ these appealing traits to achieve a competitive advantage—for example, excellent restaurant food or prompt software customer service.

Indifferent quality

Customers are unable to categorise indifferent quality features as excellent or negative. They simply exist. It might be a vibrant app launch screen or a detailed juice container label.

Quality reverse

These are high-quality performance features that do not always satisfy customers. A feature can make one consumer angry while still satisfying another. The feature to add a profile image with the bio, for example, may make one app user happy while upsetting another.

When to use the kano model?

Product managers and UX designers have limited time to develop features. They want to make sure they choose the right mix of features to focus on subsequent use of the Kano model. Its collaborative character also aids design teams in maintaining focus in the face of opposing interests. When doing customer surveys, researchers may find the Kano model useful.

Notably, the Kano model predicts that all desirable qualities will eventually become must-haves over time. Consider using hotel rooms with free Wi-Fi. That would have been a nice feature for guests a decade ago, but now it is utterly routine and expected.

To put it another way, the Kano Model is most effective and valuable for the firm when:

When there is a time constraint

A Kano model is an excellent tool when product teams are under pressure to make decisions quickly.

When there are only few resources available

The easy technique for conducting Kano analysis is to use an email questionnaire, which eliminates the need for expert resources.

When the product manager is looking for something to amaze consumers

A product manager can utilise Kano analysis to identify what features clients would like and find beneficial when trying to "think outside the box" or "think large."

When a product manager wish to improve an existing feature or a product

When it's time to renew the product or maintain it competitive against the competition, Kano analysis will evaluate all of the feature possibilities and present the product manager with a list of clear options to choose from.

How does kano prioritisation work?

Kano agrees that the emotional responses to its attributes determine a product's level of consumer loyalty. But it's not just the product's functionality that makes it 'excellent'; emotions also play a role.

In general, featured items can perform effectively and fulfil the necessity for which they were designed (for example, a customer can use it to execute a task, such as starting a car with its key), but this may not be sufficient.

Even though a product works and serves its goal, it can be dull or outdated. A self-driving car, for example, is more appealing and sounds interesting, goes beyond fundamental requirements, and makes a customer think, "wow."

Using this strategy, product teams can quickly boost customer happiness by releasing a few exceptional new features rather than a slew of basic ones. The Kano model assists a product manager in prioritising which of these ideas are the most useful so that he/she can make informed business decisions.

Categories in kano agile model 

The satisfaction vs. functionality graph illustrates how the concept works in prioritisation. The horizontal axis represents functionality, whereas the vertical axis represents satisfaction. From Left to Right, functionality runs from None to Best. The level of satisfaction ranges from Delighted to Frustrated.

The concept divides efforts into the four groups below. This is determined by their position on the satisfaction vs. implementation scale.

Understanding satisfaction and functionality are crucial to understanding how the Kano response graph works. The two scales represented below appear as measuring scales in the Kano agile model to understand the customer's response to a feature.

Five categories in kano model

The Kano agile model devised a satisfaction scale that ranged from 'Delighted' (high satisfaction or excitement) to 'Frustrated' (low satisfaction or excitement - indicating low or no satisfaction).

The Kano agile model also devised a functionality scale that ranges from 'NONE' to 'BEST,' often known as the Investment, Sophistication, or Implementation scale. This is the level of functionality that the client believes a feature provides. Has the feature been implemented to its full potential? Is the customer emotionally receptive to this feature?

Kano model functionality scale

Features can be shown on the Kano reaction graph based on satisfaction and function level based on responses from the Kano questionnaire.

Graph showing results from kano model questionnaire

1. 1D, Linear, Performance Features

As the name implies, these are characteristics in which satisfaction and functionality are in sync. The clients of the product manager will be more delighted if the product manager provides additional features. 

Consider the fuel economy of a new car or your internet connection speed. The better these are, the happier the potential customers of the product team will be. It means they're well worth the money you put into them. So, these features create a straight diagonal line on the graph.

2.Basic or Must-be 

These are the features that the client expects from a product team to make it available for them. The absence of them results in a drab product and customer unhappiness. However, if they are present, they do not make customers exceptionally happy or boost satisfaction. Consider the case of automobile brakes.

The satisfaction curve for these features demonstrates that even a small expenditure has a significant impact. However, because contentment does not reach the positive side, there is no way to make the customer more satisfied. Product managers also won't have to invest in these features in the future, which is a benefit.

3. Attractive, Delightful, or Exciting 

These are a few of the features that are unexpected elements that boost consumer satisfaction. This category includes traits that range from mild to highly appealing. Take, for example, the advancements in smartphone technology over time.

The level of satisfaction for these increases dramatically as the functionality increases. It also means that the product manager can stop after a certain point because any more additions would be excessive and irrelevant.

4. Neutral or Indifferent 

These are the few features whose absence or presence has no bearing on the customer's reaction. These features are the ones that run along the horizontal axis in the graph. They make no difference to the users, regardless of how much money you put into them. On the other side, they are a waste of money, and the product manager should avoid investing in them.

How to use the kano model effectively?

Following a fundamental grasp of how the Kano model works, we'll look at how to apply it with numerous users and features, utilising several accounts at each phase of the process.

1. Begin by deciding the features you’d like to test

A product manager can use this Kano analysis model for the quantitative survey of the target population. Create a list of qualities or attributes to examine before beginning to develop a Kano analysis questionnaire.

The notion of “Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive,” which states that while creating a list of answer alternatives, it should be MCME (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive), is familiar to most B2B market research practitioners.

The 'Collectively Exhaustive' section might be extremely challenging when completing a Kano analysis. A 'complete' list of characteristics can soon grow to be quite large. As a result, respondents are fatigued by the survey, and the dataset is challenging to evaluate.

Avoid testing more than 10-20 features when performing a Kano analysis.

2. Don't scrimp on the details while describing features

Participants in the Kano analysis process are assumed to comprehend what each characteristic performs thoroughly. There may be some underlying flaws with the data if the product manager doesn't spend the effort to explain a feature adequately.

A "show not tell" Kano practitioners recommend this approach. In other words, use an image or a prototype to demonstrate the feature visually.

If visualisation isn't an option, be sure to explain the functionality thoroughly. Highlight the benefits to the user in this description.

3. Ask 2-3 questions for each feature

Product managers need to ask at least two questions for each feature.

The first to ask is about the 'functional' issue. 'How do you feel if the product has a feature?' it asks.

The 'dysfunctional' question is the second. 'How do you feel if the product lacks features?' it asks.

Make sure the answers to both questions are the same:

  • I like it
  • I dislike it
  • I expect it
  • I can tolerate it
  • I am neutral
Kano model questionnaire example 1
Kano model template

When the product manager categorises each feature into one of five categories, he/she can determine the significance of each products’ feature to users (see below for an explanation of how to analyse the data).

However, a third inquiry can provide further context. Some practitioners use a scale of 'not at all important' to 'very significant' to ask participants how essential each aspect is to them.

Asking this question has the benefit of assisting with prioritisation. If your first analysis identifies three Performance qualities, for example, you can utilise the 'self-stated importance' inquiry to determine which of the three is most important to users.

4. Assign features to categories using the kano analysis framework

Product manager must assess the data once it has been obtained. The good news is that several frameworks are already in place that the product manager can use.

Each feature can be assigned to one of the five main categories.

First, add up the total results for each feature's dysfunctional and functional questions. For example, the product manager might discover that the target audience 'expects' to see Feature A and is annoyed when it isn't present.

There are two methods to achieve this; to learn more about this get in touch with Zeda.io. After the product manager has gotten the desired results, utilise the table below to categorise each feature. Feature A, for example, would be 'Mandatory.'

Kano Analysis framework

Product manager will notice a sixth category in the table: questionable. These variables are the outcome of conflicting answers — how can you enjoy having a feature while also enjoying not having it? – Respondents who provide such contradictory responses should most likely be excluded from the data.

5. Add more context by overlaying data about respondents' relationships with you as a product manager

Kano analysis gives the product manager a clear direction on what their target audience believes they should prioritise.

Should each customer or prospect, on the other hand, be handled equally? 

Should a product manager, for example, focus on Feature A if the only individuals who care about it are prospects who have no intention of working with the product manager? 

Should the product manager emphasise Feature B if his/her most committed customers find it 'attractive,' but it's 'dissatisfier' for everyone else?

Overlay data regarding participants' relationships with the product manager to provide context and guarantee that the product manager isn’t distracted by aspects that aren't relevant to him/her.

The product manager can overlay in particular:

  • Whether they're a current or potential customer,
  • Their willingness to cooperate with you as a product manager in the future and their brand affinity 
  • The product manager can isolate market segments whose preferences should be prioritised by doing this extra amount of investigation.

6. To give more background, consider qualitative research methodologies

Quantitative research is required for conducting a Kano analysis. However, the product manager should try using the additional research methodologies to provide further background.

A poll can tell a product manager which qualities are 'attractive' or 'anticipated,' but it can't tell him/her why. Qualitative research allows the product manager to delve further into the "why," providing more context.

7. Consider employing a Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) approach to to understand the target audience's demands

The primary assumption of JTBD is that organisations typically focus on the incorrect thing while launching a product or trying to gain customers. They concentrate on who their existing consumers are and which things they are already purchasing.

According to the JTBD paradigm, the product manager should think more broadly and concentrate on the 'job' for which buyers are hiring a product.

By altering the functional and dysfunctional questions to focus on 'jobs' rather than features, the product manager should try including the JTBD framework in the Kano analysis model:

  • Rather than asking, 'How do you feel if the product has feature,' ask, 'How do you feel if you were able to complete [job-to-be-done],'
  • Rather than asking, 'How do you feel if the product doesn't have feature,' ask, 'How do you feel if you couldn't do [job-to-be-done],'

8. Review the analysis regularly

Expectations and needs evolve with time. Features in the product itself that were once considered 'exciting' can now be considered mandatory' (and vice versa).

Consider the hotels that provide free Wi-Fi, as discussed before in this post. This was an Excitement factor in 2011. Free Wi-Fi may have a distinct impact on hotel ratings in 2021.

Because free Wi-Fi is expected, it has no beneficial impact on hotel evaluations. However, not providing free Wi-Fi is likely to lower ratings.

For a variety of reasons, customer needs change:

As previously mentioned, broad acceptance can transform anything from 'Excitement' to 'Mandatory.'

Customers' needs vary as technology advances and matures. For example, device storage was one of the essential aspects of smartphones in the early days. When cloud storage became available, device storage became obsolete.

In the end, a Kano analysis is just a snapshot in time. It must be conducted frequently to track changes in requirements.

Benefits of using kano prioritisation model

Using the Kano model has several significant advantages. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to use the Kano model for your product

  • The Kano model avoids squandering time and resources on features that aren't appealing to the intended audience.
  • The Kano analysis model pinpoints the characteristics of the current product that a product manager is working on and that require quick improvement to improve performance.
  • The Kano analysis model prioritises the feature ideas of the product into a detailed development plan based on the user happiness/satisfaction and the performance.
  • To gratify your customers faster, the Kano model avoids developing features on ideas that will not improve customer pleasure.
  • The Kano model is especially effective for organisations with limited resources (e.g., time, budget) to help them allocate their work more efficiently.

Summing Up!

While no single strategy for product success exists, the Kano prioritisation model offers a straightforward method for determining which features should be prioritised based on consumer pleasure.

When applied to specific situations, frameworks like the Kano prioritisation model can immensely benefit product teams. This is why we advise product managers to become familiar with additional product development and management tools like Zeda.io.

It takes time to build a product. The Kano model recognises that businesses have limited resources and, therefore, it is not easy to implement all desired or ideal features into the product right at once. As a result, it is strongly advisable to firms to include the results of their Kano model exercise into their product plan by taking the guidance of the best product managers.

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