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Become a standard in product design, the Kano model allows to prioritize customer expectations.

Historical

The KANO method was invented in 1984 by Japan’s Noriaki KANO 1, a professor at Rika University in Tokyo. Its purpose is to understand what are the components of the satisfaction of a product or service and help to understand how the consumer evaluates and perceives the quality2. It is today a recognized and widely used model for3:

  • Improve understanding of customer demand.
  • Help with tradeoffs by prioritizing development activities.
  • Refine segmentation.

To define the quality of a product, many researchers analyzed the perception of quality by the client. A first distinction will be the objective / subjective aspect of quality 3 . The first being indifferent to the existence of man and the second being subject to personal interpretation (feeling, thought, meaning). Research to define the quality of product attributes evolves through the years :

  • Performance, feature, reliability, compliance, durable, after sales service, aesthetics, and perceived quality4
  • Attribute of performance (what the customer wants) and degree of reliability in obtaining these attributes5
  • Reliability, aptitude for use, maintenance of performance and attractiveness…6

However, a general criticism of these attribute classifications is that they do not propose a classification of the relative importance of the attributes. Starting from this fact, Kano will carry out this research on the attractive quality based on his hypothesis on the fact that the quality has no dimension (of general attributes), but elements of satisfactions and dissatisfactions. In other words, it starts from the idea that the non-presence of a function is not symmetrical to its presence.

En clair, the presence ” that would please meof a function, does not necessarily give a strong dissatisfaction” if it is not present.

KANO model

Mandatory

They must be implicitly accomplished and do not result in higher satisfaction. But their absences induced a strong dissatisfaction until the rejection of the product. They are generally not expressed because they are considered necessary,  we gain little but we lose a lot: the brakes of a car). The case study on the Twingo illustrates the point 7  … like the rear wiper, it becomes so commonplace that it is hardly thinkable not to put it in series. It is now part of these commodities that we pay attention only when they are lacking ».

Proportional

Their locations increase proportionally to customer satisfaction. For example, the distance traveled by a vehicle with the same amount of fuel, satisfaction will be even greater than the vehicle is thrifty.

Attractive

They are not expected by the customer, but when they are offered, they lead to a very high gain of satisfaction. They are usually not expressed because they are unexpected, we gain a lot and we lose a little (ex : gps in cars in the early 2000s). Customers are generally attracted to “live” products that contain “surprise” functions, which significantly increases the attractiveness of the product. In the same way, to follow the needs of the customers is no longer enough, for particular reason, that the proliferation of product is so important that the customer can get lost.

Le modèle de KANO, permet de mettre en évidence les fonctionnalités attractives, devenues l’une des stratégies de nombreuses entreprises9,11,7

Reverse

The presence of the element induces rejection by the consumer. For example, some consumers are satisfied with high tech models, while others prefer basic 12 models. This highlights the fact that the same product will not have the same customer perception and that a representation of a product via Kano is only valid for a specific target population.

Indifferent

The consumer remains indifferent to the presence or absence of the element. Examples are on products with little or no use 11 features like number of features found in software like Excel.

Attribute and function difference

Kano’s model performs an evaluation on the attributes and not the functions that highlight this difference. By definition, a product attribute consists of a function and the means to perform this function.

Take the example of the function ” lift the window of a car “. Until the 1970s, the window lift function was performed by a mechanical lever. Then, the invention of the electric window lifter will gradually replace the manual lever to generalize. Nowadays, offering a car with a manual window lifter on low-end models is anachronistic.

Therefore, the goal of the Kano model is to enable us to identify not only the functions but also the associated technologies.

The 2 contributions of the Kano model

  • First, the dimensions of the attributes are dynamic. An attribute changes dimension during its life. For example, the remote has followed the cycle attractive (1983) → Proportional (1989) → Required (1998). The KANO model is a dynamic model that can change from year to year depending on product cycles.
  • Then, the classification of the attributes of the same product is different according to the range of the product, which is the consequence of the previous remark. Today, the introduction of a passenger airbag is attractive on city cars type Clio, while it is mandatory on high-end models. For each market segment, the Kano model of the same product is not the same. Kano summarizes this effect very well by naming his article ” cycle of life . The attributes of a product are  alive  and follow a continual cycle. This cycle having different temporal properties depending on the type of product. In pharmacy, life cycles are much longer than in IT.

The consequences on product development

Research on Kano’s attribute representation model has highlighted some of the product elements to optimize the design process :

  • It helps to focus on the value of the product. It is not appropriate to invest resources to improve a mandatory attribute whose quality level is sufficient. 
  • It allows tradeoffs between attributes, in the case where technical or financial reasons are not sufficient, highlighting the contribution on attributes on customer satisfaction. 
  • Finally, a product with little or no attractive attribute is easily interchangeable 13 ,  this one having no competitive advantage (= distinguishing attribute). The challenge is to identify attractive attributes to increase competitive advantage. 

    Obtaining the Kano graph is based on 5 steps, from the definition of the attributes to their qualification14.

    Step 1 : Setting Attributes

    tree of CTQ. Kano’s model only allows to classify them.

    Step 2  Construction of the questionnaire

    The Kano questionnaire is based on the evaluation of the client’s feeling in the case where the attribute is present (called operation) or not (called malfunction). Then each question is evaluated according to 5 levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, which are ranked in a table is analyzed according to the Kano grid :

    Functional question :

    If the X element is present, what do you think ?

    1 : It makes me happy

    2: That would be the minimum for me

    3: That would not matter to me

    4: I would accept it

    5: That would bother me a lot

    Dysfunctional question :

    If the X element is not present, what do you think ?

    1 : It makes me happy

    2: That would be the minimum for me

    3: That would not matter to me

    4: I would accept it

    5: That would bother me a lot

    Source : N. Kano (1984) – Attractive quality and must-be quality

    We build a support document of the questionnaire allowing this notation by always adding a column leaves room for the client to express himself :

    Question

    Is present

    Not present

    Comment

    Some tips :

    • Make a questionnaire of “human” size. Maximum 20 questions.
    • 1 idea by question.
    • In order to avoid the impact of competing products, it is important to notify in the questionnaire, to answer without taking competitors into account and to notify if the person uses competing products (and which ones). Indeed, it may be that the person surveyed uses a competing product to perform related functions but not present on our product. The consequence is direct on his answers. The person will consider this function essential but can tolerate its absence since the function is fulfilled by the competing product. By doing the correlation, the person will answer “This would be the minimum for me  in the operating category and  I’ll accept it </ i> in the category dysfunction, which implies an attribute considered as indifferent. This function can be a competitive advantage for us, and it seems essential to take it into account..
    • Identifier le bon niveau de précision : « if wiper control is 3 speed, how do you feel? the question too much detail does not allow to contrast the elements and the number of alternatives is important. The question should then be changed to  if the wiper control has several speed choices, how do you feel about it?   The question of how much speed can be done by a standard questionnaire preference of use of the type prefer you 2, 3 … speeds ? or how many speeds for wiper control would you like ? »…

    Step 3 : Test and modify the questionnaire

    The Kano questionnaire must be tested before being administered. Its unusual nature can cause misunderstandings due to confusing words or instructions, which will imply unsatisfactory answers.

    Following the preparation of the questionnaire, it is advisable to test it with people with various profiles (young, experienced, marketing, technical …), then to discuss the points likely to cause confusion.

    Step 4 : Collection of information

    After having built the questionnaire, it is a question of selecting the mode of administration and the people to be probed. The different techniques are the same as for the CTQ. Simplement, individual interviews will be preferred because the unfamiliar structure of the questionnaire requires explanations from the interviewer. If it is not the case, it is necessary to set up a user manual in order to help them to complete it..

    We will not forget to ask the respondent the different elements relating to the criteria of segmentation of the study :

    • Socio demographic : age, sex…
    • Psycho graphic: lifestyle, personality …
    • Behavioral: beliefs, frequency of use …
    • Benefits sought : performance, price…

    Step 5 : Interpretation of the results

    For each answer, a score will be given according to the table below :

    Functional question

    Dysfunctional question

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    1

    C

    A

    A

    A

    P

    2

    R

    I

    I

    I

    M

    3

    R

    I

    I

    I

    M

    4

    R

    I

    I

    I

    M

    5

    R

    R

    R

    R

    C

    Source : N. Kano (1984) – Attractive quality and must-be quality

    • A : Attractive.
    • P : Proportional.
    • M : Mandatory.
    • I : Indifferent.
    • R : Reverse.
    • C : Confusion: this combination only results in case of a misunderstanding of the question, if the question was incorrectly asked or inadvertently checked.

    With the help of the table of results, it can be interpreted according to 3 different approaches.

    Interpretation by analysis of  frequency

    It consists of measuring the response percentage by category. Several cases may occur :

    • An attribute is strongly present in 2 dimensions (in the extreme case 50/50 between attractive and mandatory)  it is very likely that the client group is not sufficiently homogeneous and is representative of several market segments. For example, GPS is mandatory in a high-end car, and an attractive option in a low-end or mid-range car. It’s about identifying these segments and making an interpretation for each of them.
    • An attribute is strongly present in the Reverse  dimension: the people responsible for the questionnaire have a reverse view of the market. However, those in the opposite category may represent a new market segment, their expectations not being met.
    • An attribute is strongly present in the dimension Questionable : either the question is not understood (we must then review the questionnaire) or we are in a case of product with strong innovative notion where the client is struggling to project himself (further analysis is needed).
    • Un attribut est fortement présent dans la dimension indifférent : il est opportun de ne plus dépenser dans la conception de cet attribut.

    Interpretation by comparison

    It consists of comparing the sum of the dimensions Attractive + Proportional + Mandatory  with the sum of the dimensions  Indifferent + Reverse + Confusion.

    • If  Attractive + Proportional + Mandatory  Indifferent + Reverse + Confusion:  The attribute will have as dimension the maximum value of the first group
    • If  Attractive + Proportional + Mandatory Indifferent + Reverse + Confusion:  The attribute will have dimension as the maximum value of the second group

    Example : 

    An attribute has the following evaluation : A = 19 ; P = 18 ; O = 18 ; I = 20 ; R = 2 ; C = 3

    In carrying out the sums, we have :

    • Attractive + Proportional + Mandatory = 19 + 18 + 18 = 55
    • Indifferent + Rnverse + Confusion = 20 + 2 + 3 = 25

    We conclude that the dimension of the attribute is Attractive with a value of 19.

    Interpretation by the satisfaction coefficient

    Satisfaction rating is based on identifying the influence of an attribute on satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Attributes with a higher satisfaction coefficient than the dissatisfaction coefficient show that their influence is stronger on satisfaction than dissatisfaction and vice versa.

Ratio of dissatisfaction =

Ratio of satisfaction=

If, for example, the dissatisfaction ratio is 0.8 and the satisfaction ratio 0.2, it means that the product has a stronger influence on the product’s dissatisfaction, and vice versa.

Then, it is a question of placing on a graph the points calculated with these coefficients, the ratio of dissatisfaction being on the abscissa and the satisfaction ratio on the y-axis.

Source : N. Kano (1984) – Attractive quality and must-be quality

 

Situation on the graph

Coordinate value XY

Meaning

Top left

0 ; 1

Attractive

Top right

1 ; 1

Proportional

High in the middle (A)

0,5 ; 1

Between attractive and proportional

Bottom right

1 ; 0

Mandatory

Middle right (B)

1 ; 0,5

Between proportional and mandatory

Bottom left

0 ; 0

Indifferent

Bottom in the middle (C)

0,5 ; 0

Between Mandatory and indifferent

Middle left (D)

0 ; 0,5

Between indifferent and attractive

Middle – middle(E)

0,5 ; 0,5

Also indifferent, attractive, proportional and obligatory

After the middle – After the middle (F)

0,67 ; 0,67

Also proportional, attractive and mandatory

Degrowth evaluation

Decreasing valuation consists in imposing a different importance according to the dimension in the order O> A> P> I. The logic of this method is based on the fact that the attributes of the Mandatory dimension are more important to satisfy than those of the Proportional dimension etc…

This logic can undoubtedly be questioned between proportional and attractive attributes. It is likely that in some cases, clients will accept a low or medium Proportional attribute if an Attractive attribute is present. For example, in the case of automotive consumption is a Proportional attribute and the GPS an Attractive attribute for the market segment of city cars. However, it is likely that customers are sacrificing a surplus of consumption compared to the expected level if the GPS is serialized without price increase. A complementary study will be able to identify the priority relationship between Proportional and Attractive attributes. 

Source

1 – N. Kano (1984) – Attractive quality and must-be quality

2 – M. Löfgren, L. Witell (2005)Kano’s theory of attractive quality and packaging

3 – L. Cohen (1995) – Quality Function Deployment: how to make Quality Function Deployment work for you

4 – W. Shewhart (1931) – Economic control of quality of manufactured product

5 – D. A. Garvin (1987) – Competing on the eight dimensions of qualité

6 – J.M. Juran (1988) – Juran’s Quality Control Handbook

7 – A. V. Feigenbaum (1991) – Total Quality Control : Achieving Productivity, Market Penetretion, and Advantage in the global economy

8 – C. Midler (1993) – L’auto qui n’existait pas

9 – J. Gotzsch (2003) – Designed to be loved

10 – X. X. Shen, M. Xie, K.C. Tan (1999) – Development of innovative products using Kano’s model and QFD, International journal of innovation management

11 – N. Kano (2001) – Life cycle and creation of attractive qualité

12 – A. Gustafsson (1998) – Quality Function Deployment, Vägen Till Nöjdare Kunder I Teori Och Praktik

13 – H. H. Hinterhuber, H. Aichner, W. Lobenwein (1994) – The European way to lean management

14 – G. Tontini (2003) – Deployment of a customer needs in the Quality Function Deployment using a modified Kano model

15 – C. Berger, R. Blauth, D. Boger, C. Bolster, G. Burchill, W. Dumouchel, F. Pouliot, R. Richter, A. Rubinoff, D. Shen, M. Timko, D. Walden (1993) – Kano’s methods for understanding customer defined quality

 

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