The Kano Model: Managing your customer’s needs

Normally, customers are – considering we’re talking about planet Earth here – human beings and, for this reason, they have needs that evolve as they do and there are quite a few ways of understanding and analysing their needs – one of them being the Kano Model.

Let’s consider the music industry as an example: when I was a little girl, I had a walkman and I loved listening to my cassette tapes. Then, they evolved to CD players, MP3 players and now I can listen to my music anywhere streaming it on Spotify on my phone.

My needs have evolved and so have the alternatives on the market to tend to those needs. Brands that don’t stay tuned to their customer’s and the market’s demands and needs will most likely end up just like my CD collection, gathering dust someplace in my mother’s house.

The Kano Model

You’re probably asking yourself – and on the verge of asking me – how can a company analyse their customer’s needs? How can they determine what is it their customer expect from their product, their basic needs and will make a difference, the “wow factor”? Worry not, young Padawan, Professor Noriaki Kano and his colleagues, from Tokyo Rika University developed a model that allow you determine this and much more.

The Kano model addresses the following types of requirements:

  • Basic needs: Satisfying these requirements is what allows a company to effectively get into the market;
  • Performance needs: Satisfying these is what allows a company to remain in the market – in a stable position compared to the competition;
  • Excitement needs: Satisfying these is what allows a company to excel in its target marget, to be above its competition and the customer’s 1st choice.

Basic needs, also known as dissatisfiers are the product/service’s expected features or characteristics – the “unspoken” needs. If these are not fulfilled, the tendency is that the customer will be extremely dissatisfied and won’t purchase again/recommend.

An example of a basic “unspoken” need would be, when dining at a restaurant is cleanliness – this includes a clean table, clean silverware and a pleasant, fresh aroma in the air. When a customer makes a reservation at a restaurant, they don’t need to specify they want a clean table, that’s implied so they already expect it. If this basic need is not met upon their arrival, the customer will most likely be extremely dissatisfied.


Satisfiers , also known as Performance Needs, are those standard product/service characteristics that increase or decrease satisfaction by their degree (cost/price, ease of use, speed). These needs are typically “spoken.” Sticking to the restaurant example, “spoken” needs could be a table away from the restrooms, a non-smoking table, etc.

Delighters or Excitement Needs arte the unexpected features or characteristics that impress your customers and earn your the company that “extra credit” – it’s the “wow” factor. These needs are also are typically “unspoken.” Think of when you stay at a hotel and, upon your arrival, you’re surprised by a welcome treat like a chocolate covered strawberry or a complimentary cocktail. You weren’t expecting it and that’s what made it so special. However, if the same happens the next time you stay there, it’ll create a pattern and you’ll be expecting it as a standard for all the times you stay there, losing the “wow” factor.

Manage your Product according to your Customer’s needs with Pipefy!

Pipefy’s Product Roadmap Template allows you to properly plan your product/service’s next steps according to the market’s best practices. It gives you tips on how to prioritize your features by following product management guidelines, such as the Kano Model and guides you through all the steps of the process: from defining the type of improvement to advanced measurement of impact on your goals.

Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.