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A Case Study based on the Kano model

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 2754 words Published: 21st Apr 2017

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Dr. Noriaki Kano in 1984 devised the Kano model which illustrates the relationship between performance of a product attribute and its impact on satisfaction of customers. The Kano literature makes a clear indication of two points. First, most of the authors or researchers base their studies on finding the three quality elements namely: Attractive, One-dimensional and Must-be. Second point that is observed is that Kano model is sometimes considered to be a model of customer satisfaction and sometimes a quality model depending upon the purpose of research. This model categorises several product attributes into: Must be, One-dimensional, Attractive, Reverse and Indifferent quality attributes. It is a dynamic model in which an exciting attribute becomes an expected one after sometime which generating the possibility of innovation. Customer satisfaction is an on- going process as new demands arise from current ones and these will be spoken demands for the next time. Kano model employs questionnaires consisting of a functional and dysfunctional question which help in retrieving responses from customers and these responses are utilised in product development. Kano model closely relates to customer value management and solves the purpose of strategic navigation. Kano is apt for qualitative analysis but not quantitative analysis. But researchers have come upon with quantitative approaches.

The following sections acquaint with the working of the model, formulation of questionnaires used in surveys, modifications in such questionnaires by researchers, integration of Kano model in Quality Function deployment, significance and critical analysis of the model.


Kano model can be defined as a 2- D construction which illustrates the relationship between customer satisfaction and performance of a product or service. Kano model was formulated by a Japanese professor, Dr. Noriaki Kano in 1984.

According to this model, any product or service elicits various types of satisfaction or dissatisfaction depending on whether certain consumer needs are fulfilled – Completely, partially or not fulfilled. It considers satisfaction and dissatisfaction to be two independent concepts in the minds of customers.


In 1984, Kano model was first used in the development of manufactured product quality of T.V. and decorative clocks (Kano et al., 1984). The researchers used a survey comprising functional and dysfunctional questionnaires which led to the conclusion that the concept of quality is two dimensional rather than one dimensional. Since then, this two dimensional model has been used in different industrial sectors including mass market services (Schvaneveldt et al., 1991), science research program (Lee and Newcomb, 1996), sports industry (Matzler et al., 1996), information systems (Chikara and takahashi, 1997), tourism (Tan and Pawitra, 2001), customer services (Yang, 2003), bank services (Rahman, 2004) and even in food industry (Riviere et al., 2006).

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Kano questionnaire:

Dr. Kano (1984) developed a structured questionnaire consisting of a functional and a dysfunctional question for each product attribute. Functional question addressing the presence of a particular attribute of a product and dysfunctional addressing the absence of the same. There were many limitations of the original Kano questionnaire and researchers have modified the questionnaire to get better responses from the customers. Tontini (2003) proposed a modification in the questionnaires by adding an index to measure the reverse degree of any attribute. He also transformed all the answers into numbers by giving them a scale ranging from -2 to +2. Similarly, Rejeb (2008) proposed formulation of matrix and representation of each requirement on graphs. This could make the interpretation of responses easier and more comprehendible.

Delice and Gungor (2009) used Berger’s method (Berger, 1993) to calculate customer satisfaction coefficient and customer dissatisfaction coefficient which show the extent of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among customers respectively. Lastly, Lee (2009) employed a fuzzy Kano questionnaire which was intended to improve the traditional one by enabling the respondents to utilise percentages values for given attributes thereby giving them freedom to reflect personally and a more logical view to the method and ultimately knowing the real voice of customers.

Working of Kano model and Attributes addressed by it:

The Kano model addresses the following three quality attributes of a product or service:

Must- be- Attributes which are basic to a product or considered to be the functional features of a product. Absence or insufficiency of such attributes causes dissatisfaction among customers and their presence is a must.

Example: Calling facility in a cell phone.

Performance- Attributes based on an expertise, knowledge or a behavioural characteristic. Presence of such attributes satisfies customers and absence dissatisfies them.

Example: A car company stating the feature of adjustable steering wheel is a performance attribute for the company.

Attractive- Attributes that excite the customers and make them extremely satisfied. Absence of such attributes does not cause any dissatisfaction as the customer is generally unaware of them.

Example: Presence of Global Positioning System (GPS) for navigation in cars.

Working of the Kano Model:

The Kano Model categorises the quality elements into five categories which are explained through an example of fruit smoothie. The 2 Dimensional construction of Kano Model shows the five categories of it. The vertical axis (y- axis) represents impact of product attribute on customers (satisfaction or dissatisfaction) and the horizontal axis (x- axis) represents the functionality of the product attribute. The vertical axis shows extend of satisfaction or dissatisfaction and the horizontal axis shows extend of functionality of a product attribute.

Two Dimensional Construction of Kano Model.

Figure 1: Kano’s model showing the five categories of quality elements.

1) Attractive Quality element: Such elements excite customers and are closely related to their emotions. Companies strive to get more attractive quality elements to sustain in the market. When fulfilled these have a great impact on the customer satisfaction but when unfulfilled do not cause dissatisfaction because customers are unaware of such attributes. Different colours and flavours of a smoothie can be attractive for customers.

2) One- dimensional Quality element: Elements which cause dissatisfaction when are unfulfilled or partially fulfilled and cause satisfaction when completely fulfilled.

If the company states 30% extra in the pack, the customer would be elated to get more in same price but if the pack does not contain the stated percentage, it will dissatisfy the customers greatly.

3) Reverse Quality element: This element indicates that not all the customers are alike. Some may like a particular attribute and others may dislike the same attribute. For those who dislike the attribute contributes towards dissatisfaction for the product.

For some customers highly viscous smoothie would be delightful and for others it may not be and for them it is dissatisfactory.

4) Must- be Quality element: Elements that are expected in a product or perceived to be basic to the product. Fulfilment of such attributes causes satisfaction and non-fulfilment or partial fulfilment causes dissatisfaction.

Smoothie must have fruit extract or concentrate. It is a basic attribute.

5) Indifferent Quality element: The encircled region in the diagram is known as Zone of Indifference or Neutral zone as it does not affect satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

The writing style of the brand name on the pack of product does affect the degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the customers. Customers have a neutral behaviour towards it.

In the Management literature Kano model has been incorporated in Quality Function Deployment in the developmental stage to make customer oriented products. So it is imperative to understand its integration in Quality Function Deployment.

Integration of Kano model in Quality Function Deployment:

Kano model has been integrated in many quality management programmes like Quality Function Deployment due to its customer driven attitude. Quality Function Deployment is designed to translate customer requirements to product requirements (Juran, 1993). In Quality Function Deployment, there are six stages (Han, 2001):

Voice of customers

Competitive analysis

Voice of organisation

Design targets

Relationship Matrix

Correlation Matrix

In Quality Function Deployment literature, it is the first step, voice of customers, Kano model is applied to find out customer requirements. This helps the organisation to categorise and prioritise their customer needs (Cohen, 1995).

With time the customer expectations change, the exciting quality attributes of a product become expected by the customers and likewise, in the Quality Function Deployment the voice of organisation becomes voice of customers (Cohen, 1995).

Matzler and Hinterhuber (1998) showed a decision making technique through the integration of Kano model in Quality Function Deployment and indicated the following salient features served through this integration:

Better comprehension of customer requirements and problems

Effective trade-offs

Minimum start up problems

Improved market research

Decreased development time and better planning

Similarly, Gerson (2003) demonstrated a modified Kano model which helped in the determination of the degree or level to which an attractive quality attribute is believed to be attractive or a must-be by customers and by this study he showed a successful integration of this modified model into Quality Function Deployment planning matrix.

Delice and Gungor (2009) suggested a new Quality Function Deployment optimization approach by integrating Kano model as well as Mixed Integer Linear programming (MILP) thereby considering design values requirements. In this method Kano model is applied to determine customer satisfaction coefficient and the customer dissatisfaction coefficient and ultimately they are used in Mixed Integer Linear Programming model.

To conclude, by incorporating Kano model in Quality Function Deployment, it becomes easier to identify, structure and prioritise the customer needs, also it helps in identifying the design attributes.


Kano model has been applied since 1984 as a tool for Quality Management or Customer satisfaction model. Any product or service incites satisfaction or dissatisfaction among the customers which depending upon the individual’s needs and this model considers both the terms ‘satisfaction’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ as independent concepts. It is a fairly simple model which does not require loads of mathematical computations. For a product design, it is imperative to know what the customer preferences and company’s functions are. The Kano model qualifies to know what the customers need but some of them may not be cohesive with the capability of company. So, Kano model has been incorporated in the Quality Function deployment to materialise the customer requirements and also assist in the decision for design values. Many researchers have incorporated Kano model in Quality Function Deployment (Lee et al. (2009), Matlzer and Hunterhuber (1998), Delice and Gungor (2009)).

Matzler and Hunterhuber (1998) suggested that this model could be used in trade-off situations while developing a new product. Raharjo (2007) used Kano model to fortify the Quality Function Deployment as a prerequisite for Six Sigma.

Many researchers have come up with modifications rather improvements in the Kano model which have been discussed briefly in the next section.

Critical Analysis of Kano model:

According to the Management literature, Kano Model of customer satisfaction has been used to classify and prioritise the customer needs on the basis of how an attribute impacts the satisfaction of customers. It takes in consideration, the non-linearity of customer satisfaction and performance of an attribute of a product, though this model has some discrepancies as well. In a way, this model assists only qualitatively and not quantitatively (Wassenaar et al. 2005; Riviere et al. 2006). As suggested by Matzler and Hunterhuber (1998) an appropriate way to assess quantitatively would be the use of scales for the level or degree of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. However, Xu et al. (2008) argued that the resulting categories of Kano would still be qualitative. So they suggested an analytical Kano model which ameliorated the decision support in product design by using Kano indices.

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Tontini and Silveira (2007) demonstrated that Kano model does not take into consideration the recent performance of an attribute and does not relate it to the competitor which hinders its ability to find chances for improvement. They used Customer Satisfaction- coefficient proposed by Berger et al. (1993) to calculate the percentage of customers satisfied with an attribute and percentage of customers dissatisfied when the same attribute is absent.

Lee et al. (2009) introduced Fuzzy Kano Questionnaire to reduce ambiguity and uncertainly. A traditional Kano questionnaire had single or certain range of answers which were inefficient to successfully reflect an individual opinion. To the contrary, Fuzzy kano model is quite flexible as it accepts personalised answers and also provides other answers for the same question.

Therefore, this Fuzzy Kano Questionnaire seems to be a better option than a traditional questionnaire which does not give freedom to reflect appropriately and does not manifest the degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

A Case Study based on Kano model:

Kano model was recently used in the development of a fruit smoothie (Bailkowski et al., 2009) to find out several must- be, on-dimensional and attractive attributes. This study was performed in three sessions. Firstly, the consumers tasted 16 smoothies and decided which of these 16 they would consume in future. In other words, the consumers reduced the number of unsatisfactory smoothies leaving the best ones. In the second and third sessions, the consumers pointed out the five most satisfying and five most dissatisfying smoothies employing a 9 point hedonic scale.

After consumer testing, descriptive panel of ten members stated their perception about the product. This panel assessed the fruit smoothies by using 44 descriptors; these descriptors encircled almost all sensory features of the product. Later the significant descriptors were reduced to 31 by statistical evaluation. These descriptors were finally categorised into must-be, one- dimensional and attractive quality attributes.


Today’s market is very competitive, for any organisation to sustain in this cut throat competition require more than just making new products. Kano model assists in ascertaining those features that actually satisfy customers and develop their products according to the needs and wants of the customers. It is a simple model which makes difficult decisions easy. Kano model has seen many modifications since its origin and has been successfully employed by the organisations in the developmental stages of a new product. Not only this, but Kano model has been incorporated in techniques like Quality Function Deployment and Six Sigma. There has been a little use of it in food industry and has a lot of scope in developing customer-oriented food products. Fuzzy mode of Kano model seems to be the best option presently available as it allows freedom of expression. In future, Kano model could have better graphical representations helping to understand the responses of customers in a better way. Software could be developed to evaluate the responses by customers and it could have separate databases for different categories of product or services.


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