Developed in the 80's by Professor Noriaki Kano, the model is based on the concepts of customer quality and provides a simple ranking scheme which distinguishes between essential and differentiating attributes. The model is a powerful way of visualising product characteristics and stimulating debate within the design team. Kano also produced a rigorous methodology for mapping consumer responses onto the model. Product characteristics can be classified as:
Threshold / Basic attributes
Attributes which must be present in order for the product to be successful, can be viewed as a 'price of entry'. However, the customer will remain neutral towards the product even with improved execution of these aspects.
One dimensional attributes (Performance / Linear)
These characteristics are directly correlated to customer satisfaction. Increased functionality or quality of execution will result in increased customer satisfaction. Conversely, decreased functionality results in greater dissatisfaction. Product price is often related to these attributes.
Attractiuve attributes (Exciters / Delighters)
Customers get great satisfaction from a feature - and are willing to pay a price premium. However, satisfaction will not decrease (below neutral) if the product lacks the feature. These features are often unexpected by customers and they can be difficult to establish as needs up front. Sometimes called unknown or latent needs.
Product differentiation can either be gained by a high level of execution of the linear attributes or the inclusion of one or more 'delighter' features. But, it should be remembered that customer expectations change over time, and a cup holder in a car may be today's delighter, but tomorrow it will be expected. Some users of Kano also suggest that an additional set of attributes can be classified as 'enragers' - features which enrage either through their absence or inclusion.
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