Product School

What is the Kano Model in Product Management?

The Kano Model is a framework used by Product Managers to prioritize features based on customer needs and satisfaction by dividing desirable features into three categories depending on the role they serve in the customer experience. 

Understanding The Kano Model for Product Managers

What is the Kano Model?

The Kano Model is a Product Development and customer satisfaction framework created by Japanese researcher Noriaki Kano in the 1980s. It is designed to help Product Managers prioritize features based on customer needs and satisfaction.

Why is the Kano Model Important?

One of the key duties Product Managers can be called upon to perform is feature prioritization. The Kano Model provides a rigorous and Customer-Centric approach to feature prioritization which requires a deep level of customer understanding. Deploying the Kano Model can drive better prioritization decisions and also foster stakeholder alignment by showcasing the framework behind the decisions being made.

How the Kano Model Works

The Kano Model divides product features into the following three categories:

  • Basic Features: These are essential features that customers expect and are not likely to be satisfied without—for example, the ability to exchange messages on a messenger app!

  • Performance Features: These are features that increase customer satisfaction as their performance improves—for example, the speed at which messages are exchanged, or the ease at which you can add more contacts.

  • Delighters: These are unexpected features that can surprise and delight customers—for example, the ability to embed GIFs in messages (back before this was commonplace!) or the ability to send voice or video messages.

How to Apply the Kano Model in Product Management

Here are four steps you can take to put the Kano Model to work in your Product Development process

  1. Identify customer needs and wants: Use customer feedback, surveys, and other research methods to understand customer needs and wants.

  2. Categorize features: Map out your product features and categorize them according to the Kano Model.

  3. Prioritize development efforts: Focus on developing Basic Features first, then Performance Features, and lastly, Excitement Features.

  4. Continuously monitor and improve: Keep track of customer feedback and satisfaction levels to ensure that your product remains relevant and competitive.

When to Use the Kano Model in Product Management 

The Kano Model is most useful during the Product Development phase, but it can also be applied throughout the Product Lifecycle. Product Managers should consider using the Kano Model when prioritizing feature development, striving to improve customer satisfaction, and weighing up new product opportunities.

The Kano Model in action 

By using the Kano Model, we were able to prioritize our development efforts and improve customer satisfaction, leading to increased revenue and market share.

Kano model glossary

Share this term