02 Apr

Kano Analysis testing method

Earlier, I posted an article introducing testing. To summarize it, testing is an essential process for ensuring quality, identifying defects, validating functionality, and improving current products/services or creating new ones. Testing also serves as a crucial tool in the development lifecycle, providing insights into the performance, reliability, and usability of software or systems. By systematically evaluating various aspects, testing helps mitigate risks, enhance user experience, and meet business objectives.

In this blog, we will explore one more testing methodology, namely Kano Analysis Testing Method, examining its principles, applications, and benefits. If you prefer to read it in another language, click on the flag below this blog, and the text will be translated into your preferred language.

 

Overview of the Kano Analysis Testing Method

The Kano Analysis Testing Method, hereinafter referred to as the Kano Model, is a product development and customer satisfaction theory introduced by Professor Noriaki Kano in the 1980s. It categorizes customer preferences into five categories based on how they affect customer satisfaction: must-be, one-dimensional, attractive, indifferent, and reverse quality attributes (Muzeeb, 2023). The model helps prioritize features based on their impact on customer delight and the effort required to implement them (Userpilot, 2024).

By classifying product attributes, the Kano model enables teams to make informed decisions about where to invest resources. Also, Kano model is a powerful tool for understanding customer preferences and prioritizing product development efforts. By carefully preparing, conducting, and finalizing Kano analysis, and effectively engaging stakeholders throughout the process, teams can eventually make informed decisions that drive customer satisfaction and business success.


The five categories of attributes of the model are explained here:

Must-be attributes: These are basic attributes that are taken for granted when fulfilled but result in dissatisfaction if they are not met. For example, in a car, customers expect functioning brakes as a must-be attribute (Shahin et al., 2017). Most common aspects linked to things like privacy, safety, security, and legislative requirements are considered must-be attributes.

Must-be attributes are also known as Required (atari mae or “quality element”) attributes (Hanington, 2019).

Thoughtful questions that require attention here include:

  • 1) How can companies identify must-be attributes for their products or services?
  • 2) What strategies can be employed to consistently meet or exceed must-be attributes?

 

One-dimensional attributes: These are attributes that result in satisfaction when fulfilled and dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. Their influence on customer satisfaction is proportional to their level of achievement (Kano et al., 1984). For example, fuel efficiency in a car is a one-dimensional attribute – the higher the fuel efficiency, the more satisfied the customer.

One-dimensional attributes are also known as Desired (ichi gen teki) attributes (Hanington, 2019).

Thoughtful questions that require attention here include:

  • 1) What are the one-dimensional attributes in different products or services?
  • 2) How can companies prioritize and improve one-dimensional attributes to enhance customer satisfaction?
  • 3) What role do cultural differences play in determining one-dimensional attributes?

 

Attractive attributes: Also known as “delighters,” these are attributes that provide satisfaction when achieved fully, but do not cause dissatisfaction when not fulfilled (Kano et al., 1984). They are often unexpected and can increase customer delight. They are also often unspoken or unspecified, and provide a delightful or exciting quality to the product. A new car with a self-parking feature could be an attractive attribute (Sauerwein et al., 1996).  Other example is a complimentary snack on a flight that can be an attractive attribute.

Attractive attributes are also known as Exciter/Delighter (mi ryoku teki) attributes (Hanington, 2019), they represent latent customer needs—most people will not think to ask for them.

Thoughtful questions that require attention here include:

  • 1) How can companies identify and incorporate attractive attributes into their offerings to delight customers?
  • 2) Are there any potential drawbacks or challenges in focusing too much on attractive attributes?
  • 3) How can companies continuously innovate and introduce new attractive attributes?
  • 4) What factors influence the transition of attractive attributes to one-dimensional or must-be attributes over time?

 

Indifferent attributes: These are attributes that have little or no impact on customer satisfaction, whether present or absent (Kano et al., 1984). Customers are generally indifferent towards these attributes. An example could be the color of the packaging for a product.

Indifferent attributes are also known as Neutral (mu kan shin or “indifferent quality element”) attributes (Hanington, 2019).

Thoughtful questions that require attention here include:

  • 1) How can companies determine which attributes are truly indifferent to customers?
  • 2) Should companies invest resources in improving indifferent attributes, or focus solely on other categories?
  • 3) Are there any situations where indifferent attributes might become more important?
  • 4) How can companies identify and manage indifferent attributes effectively?

 

Reverse quality attributes: These are attributes that result in customer dissatisfaction when fulfilled, and satisfaction when not fulfilled (Kano et al., 1984). They are the opposite of one-dimensional attributes. An example could be excessive packaging for an environmentally-conscious customer. Other example: customers may prefer a simple user interface over a complex one (Kano et al., 1984).

Reverse quality attributes are also known as Anti-feature (gyaku or “reverse quality element”) attributes (Hanington, 2019), including them can negatively impact customer satisfaction, and sometimes customers will pay more to not have to deal with them.

Thoughtful questions that require attention here include:

  • 1) What are some other examples of reverse quality attributes in different (other) industries?
  • 2) How can companies identify and address reverse quality attributes to avoid customer dissatisfaction?
  • 3) How can companies strike a balance between simplicity and functionality when addressing reverse quality attributes?

 

The Kano model helps product managers and designers understand which attributes they must focus on to meet customer needs versus which represent opportunities to delight customers in unexpected ways (Tan & Shen, 2000). Understanding where features fall on the Kano model allows for more effective prioritization of requirements.


Benefits of Kano Analysis

Kano analysis offers several key benefits for product development:

  1. Prioritizes features that have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction, allowing teams to focus efforts where they matter most (The Decision Lab, 2024).
  2. Provides insights into which features are essential, which drive proportional satisfaction, and which generate delight, enabling targeted improvements (iSixSigma, 2023).
  3. Helps create a detailed development plan by ranking feature ideas based on their influence on customer happiness and required performance improvement (GeeksforGeeks, 2024).
  4. Facilitates better alignment between product offerings and evolving customer needs and preferences over time (SDH Global, 2023).

 

Elements that can be tested

The Kano model can evaluate various service/product elements, such as:

  • Core functionalities and basic features
  • User interface and design aspects
  • Added-value features and enhancements
  • Customer support and service quality

By categorizing these elements based on customer expectations and satisfaction levels, teams can determine which areas warrant greater attention and resources (Bootcamp, 2023). This allows for a customer-centric approach to product development.

 

Assessing feasibility, desirability, and viability

Kano analysis enables teams to assess the feasibility, desirability, and viability of product requirements:

  • Feasibility: Categorizing features helps determine the effort and resources needed to implement them, informing technical feasibility.
  • Desirability: Insights into customer preferences and satisfaction drivers reveal which features are most desirable to users.
  • Viability: Understanding the impact of features on customer delight in relation to the required investment helps gauge the overall viability of product decisions (Appinio, 2023).

By evaluating these criteria, teams can make well-rounded, justifiable choices about product direction and prioritization.

 

Limitations of Kano Analysis

While powerful, the Kano model has some limitations:

  • It provides a snapshot in time and may not account for changing customer preferences, especially in fast-moving markets (Master of Project, 2023).
  • The model relies on customer self-reporting, which can be subject to biases or inconsistencies (Designorate, 2023).
  • It does not directly address financial considerations or technical constraints that may affect prioritization decisions.
  • In rapidly evolving categories like technology, the model’s categorizations may break down as features continually improve (Quantux Blog, 2023).

 

Preparing for Kano Analysis

To properly prepare for Kano analysis, several steps should be taken:

  1. Identify the product or service attributes to be evaluated, considering various feature ideas and elements (Fibery, 2023).
  2. Develop a Kano questionnaire that asks customers about their reactions to the presence or absence of each attribute (IAPM, 2023).
  3. Determine the target audience and sampling approach for the analysis.
  4. Set up the necessary tools and resources to conduct the survey and analyze the results.

 

Conducting Kano Analysis: a step-by-step walkthrough

  1. Administer the Kano questionnaire to the target audience, asking about their satisfaction with the presence and absence of each attribute.
  2. Analyze the responses to categorize each attribute into the Kano model’s five categories based on the majority of responses.
  3. Evaluate the results to identify priority areas and make informed decisions about resource allocation and product roadmaps (Savio, 2023).
  4. Share findings with stakeholders and incorporate insights into product planning and development processes.

 

Finalizing Kano Analysis

After conducting Kano analysis, consider the following to finalize the insights and outcomes:

  • Review categorizations to ensure they align with other customer data points and market research.
  • Validate findings with additional customer feedback or user testing as needed.
  • Document key insights and recommendations in a clear, actionable format for sharing with stakeholders (Canny, 2023).
  • Integrate Kano analysis outcomes into broader product strategy and roadmapping discussions.
  • Establish a plan for periodically reassessing customer preferences to account for evolving needs over time (Medallia, 2023).

 

Tips for success

  • Clearly define the attributes to be tested and ensure they cover a range of product aspects
  • Use clear, concise language in the Kano questionnaire to avoid confusion
  • Ensure a representative sample of target customers to gather reliable insights
  • Combine Kano analysis with other user research methods for a holistic view of customer needs (Ekanem, 2023)
  • Regularly review and update Kano analysis findings to stay aligned with market shifts

 

Things to avoid

  • Don’t rely solely on Kano analysis for prioritization decisions; consider technical feasibility, business goals, and other factors as well.
  • Avoid over-relying on a single Kano analysis; customer preferences can shift over time, so periodic reassessment is necessary.
  • Don’t neglect the importance of clear communication and stakeholder alignment when applying Kano analysis insights to product decisions.

 

Engaging stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders is crucial to the success of Kano analysis and its application to product development. Key steps include:

  • Clearly communicate the purpose, methodology, and outcomes of the Kano analysis to secure buy-in and trust.
  • Involve relevant stakeholders in defining the attributes to be tested to ensure alignment on priorities.
  • Share Kano analysis findings in a clear, actionable format that highlights implications for product strategy and resource allocation.
  • Foster ongoing dialogue with stakeholders to integrate Kano insights into decision-making processes and maintain alignment as priorities evolve.

Examples of Kano Analysis

  1. A mobile app development team used Kano analysis to evaluate features for a new fitness tracking app. They identified that GPS tracking and personalized workout plans were must-be features, while social sharing and gamification elements were attractive attributes that could delight users (Savio, 2023).
  2. An e-commerce company conducted Kano analysis on its website features and found that fast, free shipping was a one-dimensional attribute, with satisfaction increasing proportionally to shipping speed. The analysis also revealed that product videos were an indifferent attribute, suggesting resources could be better invested elsewhere (Appinio, 2023).
  3. A software company used Kano analysis to prioritize enhancements for its project management tool. The analysis showed that integrations with third-party apps were an attractive attribute, while advanced reporting features were indifferent to most users. This insight helped the team focus its development efforts on high-impact areas (Canny, 2023).

Examples of questions for each attribute

Below, additional questions for each attribute are provided as examples to illustrate how a survey can be created, enhancing clarity. Keep in mind, for each question, it’s always beneficial to provide options for respondents to choose from different responses in a survey, such as “satisfied,” “neutral,” or “dissatisfied”.

Must-be Quality Attributes

  • Reflecting on the Basics: How would you rate your level of satisfaction if the basic safety features were absent from a product you regularly use? Does its absence significantly diminish your perception of the product?
  • Essential Elements: Could you list the fundamental features you expect in [Product/Service] without which it would be deemed incomplete or unsatisfactory?
  • Hygiene Factors: In terms of functionality, which core aspects of [Product/Service] do you believe must be flawlessly executed to ensure a baseline level of satisfaction?
  • Non-negotiables: Are there any specific attributes of [Product/Service] that, if underperformed, would immediately prompt you to seek alternatives?
  • Foundation of Trust: How important is the reliability of [Product/Service] to your overall satisfaction, and how does its absence affect your loyalty?

One-dimensional Quality Attributes

  • Performance Metrics: How does the speed/efficiency of [Product/Service] correlate with your satisfaction level? Would an increase in performance substantially elevate your perception of its value?
  • Gradations of Quality: Can you quantify how improvements in the quality of [Product/Service] would influence your likelihood of recommending it to someone else?
  • Value Proposition: How significantly does the cost-to-benefit ratio of [Product/Service] affect your satisfaction and continued use of the product?
  • User Experience Enhancements: To what degree does user-friendly design or ease of use impact your preference for [Product/Service]?
  • Customization and Flexibility: Would the ability to customize or personalize [Product/Service] enhance your satisfaction? How much value do you place on this flexibility?

Attractive Quality Attributes

  • Delightful Surprises: What are some unexpected features in [Product/Service] that would not only please you but potentially turn you into a loyal advocate?
  • Above and Beyond: Can you recall any instances where [Product/Service] exceeded your expectations in a way that significantly increased your satisfaction?
  • Innovative Features: How do you perceive the introduction of novel functionalities in [Product/Service]? Do innovations play a major role in your continued patronage?
  • Emotional Connection: How likely are you to form a strong emotional bond with [Product/Service] if it provided unique, innovative features that you hadn’t thought you needed?
  • Memorable Experiences: What kind of extraordinary features or services would make [Product/Service] truly unforgettable for you?

Indifferent Quality Attributes

  • Neutral Ground: Are there features of [Product/Service] that you find neither add to nor detract from your satisfaction? Could you specify what they are?
  • Excess Baggage: In your experience, have you encountered functionalities within [Product/Service] that seemed superfluous or unnecessary?
  • Simplification vs. Complexity: Would you prefer [Product/Service] to simplify its offerings by removing these indifferent features, or do they contribute to a comprehensive experience in an unforeseen way?
  • The Fine Line: How do you discern between genuinely useful functionalities and those that appear valuable but are seldom utilized?
  • Cost of Complexity: Are there features in [Product/Service] whose absence would neither impair your experience nor diminish the product’s value to you?

Reverse Quality Attributes

  • Contrarian Perspectives: Are there aspects of [Product/Service] that you find diminish your satisfaction or interest when enhanced or overemphasized?
  • Less is More: Can you identify features or services included in [Product/Service] that you believe would better serve the product by their reduction or removal?
  • The Dilemma of Abundance: Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the complexity or the plethora of options provided by [Product/Service]? How does this impact your overall satisfaction?
  • Inversion of Expectations: Are there instances where traditional improvements to [Product/Service] could actually lead to a decrease in your satisfaction?
  • Simplicity as a Virtue: Do you value simplicity and ease of use over extensive, possibly underutilized features in [Product/Service]?

By venturing through these questions, we not only unearth the layers of consumer expectations but also pave the way for innovation, tailored to the intricate desires of the market. It’s a journey of discovery, a quest to align product offerings with the evolving landscape of needs and expectations, ensuring not just satisfaction but delight. Insights derived from customer feedback can enhance the product/service and add significant value to both the market and the business/organization.


References:

  • Hanington, B (2019), Universal Methods of Design
  • Kano, N., Seraku, N., Takahashi, F., & Tsuji, S. (1984). Attractive quality and must-be quality. The Journal of the Japanese Society for Quality Control, 14(2), 39-48.
  • Sauerwein, E., Bailom, F., Matzler, K., & Hinterhuber, H.H. (1996). The Kano model: How to delight your customers. International Working Seminar on Production Economics, 1(4), 313-327.
  • Tan, K.C., & Shen, X.X. (2000). Integrating Kano’s model in the planning matrix of quality function deployment. Total Quality Management, 11(8), 1141-1151.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *