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Kano Analysis

What Is Kano Analysis?

The Kano Model is an analysis tool to explore and measure customer needs. It’s a way to identify the basic needs of customers, as well as performance and excitement requirements. This model is based on the view that functionality is not the only measure of how ‘good’ a product. Customer emotions should also be taken into account.

The idea is that, as important as the basic functions of products or services are, adding new attractive features will help with customer satisfaction. For instance, when buying a new car, you’d expect the car to go faster when you accelerate. However, adding a virtual assistant feature would increase customer satisfaction and make you stand out from competitors.

The Origins of Kano Analysis

In the 1980s, Professor Noriaki Kano introduced Kano Analysis, a revolutionary approach to understanding customer satisfaction that expanded beyond conventional marketing theories. This approach emphasises the importance of emotional responses to product features alongside their functional value.

Emerging from Japan’s quality management era, which was characterised by the nation’s swift industrial growth, Kano and his team embarked on an exploration into the intricate dynamics of customer satisfaction. Their goal was to identify not just the basic requirements of customers but also how specific product features could evoke emotional reactions.

Noriaki’s model organises product attributes into five categories — Must-be, One-dimensional, Attractive, Indifferent, and Reverse — each reflecting its impact on customer satisfaction. This framework unveiled the non-linear relationship between attribute performance and satisfaction levels, highlighting features that could either significantly delight or dissatisfy customers if not properly addressed.

Through extensive research and surveys across various product categories, Kano validated the model’s applicability across diverse sectors. His work illustrated that customer satisfaction is a dynamic concept influenced by changing expectations, cultural shifts, and technological advances.

Benefits of Kano Analysis

  • One of the biggest strengths of Kano is its ability to effectively identify the needs and desires of customers.
  • Kano provides a type of ‘route map’ for product and service development, identifying priority features for improvement and attention.
  • It can also be used for product introduction, as Kano helps us to understand which features should be included to increase the chances of the product or service being a success.
  • The analysis provided from Kano is extremely useful in terms of figuring out customers’ priorities and needs, whatever stage a product or service is at*.
  • Kano builds on the Net Promoter Score (NPS), showing you what you need to focus on to improve satisfaction. This step is often over looked.

*Although we specifically mention new product development, it is just as important to review features periodically (if not continually) as consumer needs change.  For instance, air conditioning in a car may have once been a ‘delighter’ (i.e. not expected, but increasing satisfaction if included), but now it is seen as a ‘must have’ feature.

Weaknesses of Kano Analysis

  • As great as the results we receive are, analysing them is difficult and requires a high level of knowledge to do it correctly.
  • These surveys can be tedious and dull, there’s not much variety in terms of questions being asked and depending on the number of features in question, the survey can get quite exhausting (for this reason it is important to give as much time and effort at the start of the project as the end).

How does the Kano model work?

The model categorises the features and attributes of a product or service in five ways:

Threshold Attributes (Basics) (Must-have features) – these are features that customers expect the service or product to have, these aren’t features that would necessarily impress customers but can cause dissatisfaction if missing.

Performance Attributes (Satisfiers) (One-Dimensional features) – these features don’t come with the deal, rather add to the enjoyment level.

Excitement Attributes (Delighters) (Attractive features) – these are the crucial features that increase the product or service’s competitors edge. This is the attribute to focus on as it will put you on a pedestal among your competitors.

Indifferent Attributes – these are features that customers cannot decide if they are good or bad.

Reverse Attributes – these features can be high quality or performance, but not increase satisfaction levels.

In order to get to these definitions, consumers are asked two questions:

  1. How do you feel if you have this feature? (Functional Question)
  2. How do you feel if you do not have this feature? (Dysfunctional Question)

Both questions are answered on a five-point, single-coded scale. The chart below shows how each feature is categorised based on the answers to the functional vs dysfunctional questions.

– Attractive features – These features are not expected but are liked by customers
M – Must-be features – These are must have features and customers dislike not having them
P – Performance features – Features customers like having and dislike not having
I – Indifferent features – Customers are neutral to the feature or can tolerate it
Q – Questionable features – Conflicting responses from customers
R – Reverse features – When customers like not having the feature or dislike having it

Adding more depth to Kano:

An additional question can be added to determine how important the given feature is to customers. For instance, we might ask “how important is it for cars to have a reversing sensor system?”, using a Likert scale for respondents to rate the importance of each feature, such as below.

Kano is an even stronger tool if NPS data is overlaid:

By including the NPS scores of existing customers when trying to improve satisfaction, you can:

  • quickly map out the distracting areas to ignore
  • leverage the attributes in the “delight” category to increase advocacy exponentially

Tips on using Kano Analysis:

  • When listing out features, it’s a good idea to show what the feature does through a prototype, or an explanatory text description.
  • The number of features being tested also has an effect on the results of the Kano Analysis, so it is recommended that you test between 15-20 features.
  • Selecting customers is another important step. You must consider certain demographics and personas that your customers belong to, in order to achieve results that will be representative of your target audience.
  • Clarity of each question is also vital; one feature should be present in each question and it should be designed to benefit the user.
  • Other than just having a question, it might be useful to have a display of what each feature does and then ask them a question. This interactive display will help them to better understand the functionality of each feature, whilst also making the questionnaire more interactive and interesting for respondents.

How To Do Kano Analysis

Kano Analysis begins by identifying a wide range of product features, from basic functionalities to innovative attributes that set your offering apart. This critical first step helps in understanding the unique value of your product and how it meets customer needs.

Designing a targeted survey is crucial, incorporating Functional and Dysfunctional questions for each feature to gauge customer reactions. Including a question on the importance of each feature deepens the analysis, offering insights into what customers truly value.

Selecting a representative audience is key to the success of the analysis. This involves considering various demographic factors and customer segments to ensure the findings reflect the preferences of the wider market accurately.

The next phase involves analysing survey responses with the Kano framework, categorising features into essential, performance-enhancing, and delightful attributes. This step is pivotal in pinpointing what customers expect, what improves their satisfaction, and what truly impresses them.

Net Promoter Scores

Incorporating additional data, such as Net Promoter Scores, can provide further insights, revealing areas for improvement that the Kano analysis alone might not highlight.

Based on these insights, developing strategic action plans for feature development, enhancement, or possible elimination is essential. Prioritising features ensures that customer expectations are met and exceeded, positioning the product distinctively in the market.

Regular iteration of the analysis ensures alignment with changing customer preferences and market conditions, maintaining a competitive edge.

The integration of Kano Analysis findings into product development, marketing strategies, and customer experience initiatives allows for a more effective allocation of resources. Engaging cross-functional teams in this process ensures that decisions are driven by comprehensive customer insights, aligning product features with market demands and expectations.

Refinement and Modern Application

Over time, the Kano Model has been refined to incorporate contemporary methods for collecting and analysing data, ensuring its continued relevance in today’s market research and product development fields.

The introduction of the Kano Model marked a significant shift in the understanding of customer satisfaction and loyalty. It underscored the critical balance between meeting basic needs and innovating to exceed customer expectations, propelling businesses towards greater competitive differentiation.

At Sapio Research, we have a team of researchers who are well-seasoned with carrying out Kano analysis.  Some common sectors that we have used Kano for include tech, marketing and PR, but it is a technique which can be applied to any relevant product or service.  To find out more and see how we can help you, simply drop us an email or give us a call.

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