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What is a Kano Model?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

The Kano Model is a product management framework that helps businesses identify and prioritize features based on customer satisfaction. Developed by Professor Noriaki Kano in the 1980s, this model categorizes customer preferences into five distinct categories: Must-be, One-dimensional, Attractive, Indifferent, and Reverse.


To better understand the Kano Model, let's consider some examples. Imagine you are developing a project management software.

  • Must-be: The software must have basic project tracking functionalities such as task management, deadlines, and progress tracking. Without these features, customers would be highly dissatisfied.
  • One-dimensional: Customers expect additional features that enhance their experience, like time tracking, file sharing, and collaboration tools. The absence of these features would result in dissatisfaction, but their presence only meets expectations.
  • Attractive: These are unexpected features that delight customers when present, but their absence does not cause dissatisfaction. For example, advanced analytics or integrations with other popular tools.
  • Indifferent: Features that neither add value nor detract from customer satisfaction. An example could be having different color themes for the software interface.
  • Reverse: These features, when present, actually lead to customer dissatisfaction. An example could be complex and confusing settings that overwhelm users.


The Kano Model is valuable because it helps product managers prioritize features and allocate resources effectively. By understanding which features are most important to customers, businesses can focus on developing and enhancing the aspects that truly matter. This model also aids in identifying potential opportunities for innovation and competitive differentiation.

How to Use the Kano Model

  1. Identify customer preferences: Conduct surveys, interviews, and user testing to gather customer feedback and understand their expectations.
  2. Categorize features: Classify each feature into one of the five Kano Model categories: Must-be, One-dimensional, Attractive, Indifferent, or Reverse.
  3. Prioritize features: Focus on Must-be and One-dimensional features to meet customer expectations and avoid dissatisfaction. Then, consider adding Attractive features to delight customers and gain a competitive edge.
  4. Monitor changing customer preferences: Regularly reassess customer needs and preferences as they may evolve over time. Features that were once Attractive may become basic expectations, requiring continuous adaptation.

Useful Tips

  • Use the Kano Model in combination with other product management frameworks, such as the MoSCoW method or the Eisenhower Matrix, to make informed decisions.
  • Prioritize Must-be features to ensure a solid foundation for customer satisfaction before investing in Attractive features.
  • Continuously gather customer feedback to stay up-to-date with changing preferences and identify emerging trends.
  • Consider the cost-benefit analysis of each feature to ensure resources are allocated efficiently.


The Kano Model is a product management and customer satisfaction theory developed by Noriaki Kano in the 1980s. It categorizes customer preferences into five different types.
The five types of customer preferences in the Kano Model are: Must-Be, One-Dimensional, Attractive, Indifferent, and Reverse.
A Must-Be attribute in the Kano Model refers to basic features or characteristics of a product that are expected by customers. Their absence leads to extreme dissatisfaction, but their presence doesn't necessarily increase satisfaction.
A One-Dimensional attribute in the Kano Model refers to features or characteristics that directly impact customer satisfaction. The more of these attributes a product has, the more satisfied customers will be.
An Attractive attribute in the Kano Model refers to features or characteristics that customers may not necessarily expect, but that delight and exceed their expectations when present.
An Indifferent attribute in the Kano Model refers to features or characteristics that neither satisfy nor dissatisfy customers. They are typically considered to be neutral and have no significant impact on customer satisfaction.
A Reverse attribute in the Kano Model refers to features or characteristics that, when present, actually lead to dissatisfaction among customers. These attributes are often unexpected and go against customer preferences.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use the Kano Model
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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