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What is the Kano Model?

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The Kano Model (pronounced “kah-no”) is an approach to prioritizing features on a product roadmap based on the degree to which they are likely to satisfy customers. Product teams can weigh a high-satisfaction feature against its costs to implement, to determine whether or not adding it to the roadmap is a strategically sound decision.

The Kano Model is one of many prioritization frameworks designed to help product teams prioritize initiatives. Kano can help teams determine which features will satisfy and even delight customers. Product managers often use the Kano Model to prioritize potential new features by grouping them into categories. These feature categories can range from those that could disappoint customers, to those likely to satisfy or even delight customers.

This strict focus on how customers will react to each feature distinguishes the Kano Model from other prioritization frameworks. The Benefits vs. Cost Model, for example, might use customer satisfaction among its scoring criteria but might also use other criteria, such as increased revenue. With the Kano Model, the key consideration for any new feature is how much it will satisfy users.

When to use the Kano Model
The Kano Model can be a helpful framework for product teams with limited time and resources who want to make sure they are prioritizing the appropriate mix of features to work on next.
This approach is most effective for teams in need of guidance to figure out which minimum-threshold features they absolutely must build, which performance features to start investing in now, and which customer-delight features will deliver the biggest customer “Wow!” for the buck.
As product management consultant Daniel Zacarias explains, “There are many different reasons why you might need to include a given feature, but what do you do in order to know which ones will make your (future) customers happy and prefer it over others?”
The Kano Model can help product teams answer that all-important question.

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