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A business model to identify purchase motivations

Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management at the Tokyo University Of Science in Japan published his model in 1984. Dr Kano demonstrates that blindly fulfilling customer requirements risks missing out on what customers really need and want. His model of customer satisfaction is based on different types of customer expectations.

When people choose a brand or product, they do so using both conscious and subconscious thought. The Kano framework focuses attention on what is of value to the customer. This is a model that helps the business develop products that only offer features that matter because they delight customers. This focus makes sure there is no over delivery and that the product is profitable.

The tool has two axes. The vertical axis measures satisfaction ranging from low at the bottom to high at the top. The horizontal axis measures the degree to which the service or product delivers against what is expected. Poor ability of the product to meet needs is at the left of the axis and excellent fulfilment of meeting needs is at the right.

The Kano framework plots products (or services) against three types of properties or attributes. 

Basic – attributes/features that are hygiene factors and have to be in all products. Any improvement on these factors will improve satisfaction but not by a huge amount.

Performance – attributes/features in a product that, when improved, generate a proportional increase in satisfaction.

Excitement – these are attributes/features that, when added to a product, significantly improve satisfaction.

In order to determine how attributes play together on the two axes, Kano asks two questions about each attribute:


  • If (name the attribute) improved in its performance, how would you feel? This question is aimed at determining the functional appeal of the attribute.

  • If this product did not have (name the attribute), how would you feel? This question is to establish the dysfunctional appeal.


The Kano tool can play an important role in innovation. It can be used to find out the improvements or innovations that could excite people about the product. They are the things which would make the product special and differentiated.

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