The Kano model as a basis for product innovation strategy

The Kano Model was developed in the 80s by Professor Noriaki Kano. It is based on the insight that improving and adding product features does not automatically lead to higher customer satisfaction. This is interesting from an innovation perspective: how do I make my product innovation as effective as possible, or how do I ensure higher customer satisfaction with a change?

The Kano model

kano model visual


In the model we find on the y-axis customer satisfaction, where it can be positive or negative. On the x-axis we find the functionality, these are product or service features / properties. On the left side of the cutting edge the functionality is not present, on the right side the functionality fills the customer's expectations to an increasing extent.

We then see the different statuses that can arise on the basis of the (non-linearly progressing) lines. Over time, a functionality can also shift from one status to another. Let's take as an example 'WIFI in my hotel room'.


When WIFI was not yet common, you could really distinguish yourself as a hotel by advertising 'free wifi in your room'. For the customer, this was a real 'wow' factor. We call this situation attractive.


WIFI alone is no longer sufficient, it also has to be fast. The WIFI is too slow, I have no coverage, etc. are complaints that you want to avoid. So as a hotel you ensure better, faster, safe WIFI.


I also call this 'hygiene factors'. As a customer you assume that it is there and that it works well. If it is missing, it will result in dissatisfaction. This is the status that WIFI has now, I assume that there is free WIFI everywhere. If this is missing, this leads to dissatisfaction (especially with my children by the way ;-))


For the customer it does not matter whether the functionality is present or not. For example, my mobile phone has all kinds of functionality that I have no idea what it is for and what I don't use. I won't miss it when it's gone, but it won't make me any more positive if this functionality is missing.


The customer downright dislikes a certain feature. In fact, if the feature were removed, the customer would be more satisfied. For example, think of advertising on YouTube before you can watch a movie.

Basis for product innovation?

In a previous article about life cycle management, I laid a foundation for various Life Cycle Management Strategies. See this article 

The table below gives an overview of the different strategies. The market here concerns the trend in the size of the total need in the market.

The categories for which it is interesting to do this additional customer research according to the Kano model are indicated with a star.

Life cycle & Canoe model

Let's get started with the Kano model:

Step 1: unravel your product or service

What product or service characteristics does your product or service consist of? Which product features do you have doubts about whether they are (still) needed? Which new features are you considering (note: the customer must be able to imagine something about this). You can test a maximum of 10 features at the same time, otherwise it is incalculable for customers.

Step 2: let your customers rate the product features

You ask 2 questions per feature:

How do you rate this feature / what would you think if this feature was included?

I don't really care
How would you like it if this feature were there CANNOT in it?
I don't really care


Step 3: plot the features on a matrix


kano model

In this way you get an overview of how important it is to the customer per feature. You now have an overview of the things you can invest in with an impact on customer satisfaction.

Step 4: Follow-up analysis

How do you analyze the results if you carry out this research with, for example, 50 customers? There are two ways:

  1. Discrete Analysis

Here you look at how the majority rate a category and link this product feature to the highest scoring category. Below is an example of a discrete analysis for the product “smartphone” and its functions.


2. Continuous analysis

This analysis assigns a numerical value to each answer to dysfunctional and functional questions. The averages are then used to determine the resulting category. This creates an overview as below.

kano analyse plotten


Step 5: Towards product / innovation strategy

kano strategie

What do these scores mean now? Suppose I have done an analysis of my product which is currently in a mature market. I can classify the 10 most important features as shown on the accompanying picture (# stands for number)

This analysis shows that I have little distinctive character with my product. The majority of the features are taken for granted, 3 are not relevant for the customer, and I have 2 performance features (which is often the same as with the competitor: can I get more for the same price or not?) And only 1 feature which really contributes to customer satisfaction.

This may therefore be a reason to investigate this product further: how could we increase customer satisfaction with this product? For example, we could map out the customer journey specifically for this product to see whether we can make (perhaps radical) improvements.

In this way we ensure that our product strategy also forms input for our innovation strategy!



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