KANO Model

Contrary to what some might initially think, the “Kano Model” isn’t related to canoes. Developed in the 1980s by Noriako Kano, this model plays a significant role in the Lean Six Sigma methodology. At the heart of this approach lies the principle of understanding and fulfilling customer needs. Recognizing these needs can pave the way to refine products and services. By doing so, businesses can potentially enhance their operational efficiency and boost their brand perception.


Every customer has unique needs and desires, often termed the “Voice of the Customer” (VOC). Sometimes, a customer’s emphasis on service is as crucial as the product itself. To effectively cater to diverse needs, businesses must discern which requirements are paramount. This is where the Kano Model offers its value, providing insights into prioritizing customer demands.


Within the Kano Model, customer requirements are evaluated based on:

  • How effectively the need is met.
  • The degree of satisfaction derived from meeting that need.

Based on these evaluations, the needs are classified into three categories:

  1. Must-be Quality: These are fundamental attributes a product must possess.
  2. One-dimensional Quality: Incremental enhancements to the product that elevate its value.
  3. Attractive Quality: Unexpected features that can delight customers.

For instance, consider a smartphone. The basic ability to make calls is a “must-be quality”. Features like camera quality and battery life might be “one-dimensional qualities”. A unique, innovative feature, such as augmented reality capabilities, could be an “attractive quality”.


It’s essential to understand that these quality classifications aren’t static. What starts as an attractive quality can evolve into a one-dimensional or even a must-be quality as market expectations change. A classic example is WiFi in hotels. Once a luxury, it’s now an expected amenity in most establishments.


Here’s a simplified 5-step plan to utilize the Kano Model:

  1. Analyze Product Features: List all features of your product, consider what competitors offer, and ponder potential customer expectations.
  2. Categorize the Features: Label each feature as a must-be, one-dimensional, or attractive quality. Identify any irrelevant features from the customer’s perspective.
  3. Ensure Must-be Qualities Are Met: Prioritize these fundamental features as they’re non-negotiable for most customers.
  4. Strategize on One-dimensional Qualities: These will be your selling points, differentiating you from competitors.
  5. Choose High-margin Attractive Qualities: Instead of numerous attractive qualities that reduce profits, pick a few with excellent returns.

By implementing the Kano Model, businesses can better align their offerings with customer expectations, providing an edge over competitors. Regular evaluation ensures companies adapt to changing customer requirements.

Want to learn more about Lean Six Sigma models? Try one of our courses!

The Lean Six Sigma Company offers multiple courses to help you become a certified Lean Six Sigma professional. Within these, you will learn all about the KANO-model and similar useful tools and methods. You can look into our course selection at your leisure, request a study guide or simply contact us if you have any questions. We would be glad to help you!

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