Kano, part 1: What is it?

This is a cross-post from my original blog, where I discuss a variety of topics around product management and technology.

The Kano model is a basic but essential framework for PMs. Many articles describe what it is and how to apply it to the art and science of product management. Here’s a good one:


The Kano model suggests that customer sat is directly aligned with the completeness or usefulness of your product or service. It forces you to break down your product into 3 categories:

  • Delighters: bonus capabilities that excite customers. Think: Adaptive Cruise Control.
  • Performance needs: the more you invest, the happier the customer is. This is typically where you compete in a proof-of-concept or eval. Think: Miles Per Gallon.
  • Basic expectations: table stakes. Must have capabilities for the customer to do their job. Over time, delighters may become basic expectations. Think: Seatbelts (yes, there was a time where seat belts were not standard features…)

I’ve used this model in a number of ways. While it helps PM organize a product’s feature sets, that’s actually not the primary reason why I’ve used it.

Interested in learning more? Read part 2 of my series on Kano.