Prioritizing new features on your roadmap can be difficult, but many prioritization frameworks leave out a crucial factor: customer satisfaction. 

That is, what features and developments matter most to your customers? 

The Kano model is a great way to gather and analyze data to answer that question and prioritize features accordingly. 

In this article, we’ll dive into: 

Not sure the Kano model is right for you? There are plenty of other models you can try. Check out our guide to the best product management prioritization frameworks and see which ones make the most sense for your team. 

What is the Kano model? 

The Kano model is a product management prioritization framework that prioritizes potential features based on the likely level of customer satisfaction. 

The Kano model is named for Dr. Noriaki Kano, a quality management professor in Tokyo who invented the model. He developed his framework during his years of research on which factors most impact customer satisfaction and loyalty to a brand. 

In a Kano model analysis, your team will classify every feature on a scale ranging from dissatisfied or indifferent to extremely satisfied. You’ll also chart the level of investment needed to reach that level of satisfaction. 

It’s similar to the Impact vs. Effort matrix and Opportunity Scoring models. However, unlike other prioritization frameworks, a Kano analysis focuses almost entirely on ‌customer reactions. This can be helpful for keeping the customer at the forefront of your decision-making. 

How does the Kano model work? 

The Kano method prioritizes features by focusing on customer preferences. All potential features are mapped on a graph based on two factors: 

  • Customer satisfaction 
  • Implementation value

For customer satisfaction, you want to understand how satisfied a customer is in response to a certain feature (existing or potential). Use a sliding scale ranging from dissatisfied or frustrated to excited or delighted. For implementation value, you want to understand what level of functionality or implementation the feature currently has, from “none” to “most of all” or “best.” 

The easiest way to‌ chart and rank these features is through a customer survey. 

After all, your goal here is to understand the customer’s reaction and satisfaction levels. What better way to do that than to ask them directly? You can run a Kano model analysis with either existing customers, or your target audience. 

To do so, create a survey that lists current or potential features. Each feature should be accompanied by two questions about using (or not being able to use) those features: 

  • Positive: How would you feel if the product had ______? (Or how would you feel if there was more of __________?)  
  • Negative: How would you feel if the product didn't have __________? (Or how would you feel if there was less of ____________?) 

Survey respondents should respond on a scale of 1–5, with the following descriptions: 

  1. I would like this 
  2. I would expect this 
  3. I would be neutral about this
  4. I wouldn’t mind this 
  5. I would dislike this 

From here, you can map features onto your Kano model analysis based on responses using the following evaluation chart: 




I’d expect it


I’d dislike it


Basic feature

I’d like it 


I’d dislike it


Performance feature

I’d like it 


I’d be neutral


Excitement feature

I’d be neutral


I’d be neutral


Indifferent feature

I’d dislike it


I’d expect it


Negative feature

In short, you want to prioritize features that customers expect and like (or would like), but haven’t been implemented fully. Obviously, avoid features that customers just feel neutral about or actively dislike. 

To better understand how this model helps sort and prioritize features based on customer response, let’s break down each of the Kano model categories. 

Kano model feature categories 

Using the Kano model gives you four basic categories for prioritizing features: 

  • Excitement features 
  • Performance features
  • Basic features 
  • Indifferent features 

Excitement features 

Excitement features are ones that your users don’t necessarily need or expect, but create delight. 

Some examples of excitement features could be: 

  • Wireless charging for smartphones and other electronics 
  • A smart fridge that automatically sends needed groceries to a grocery list on your phone 

If you don’t have these features, customers aren’t going to be dissatisfied, because they didn’t expect them in the first place. But if you do have them, customers will be excited by these features. These give your product the “wow factor” and help you distinguish yourself from competitors. 

Investing in these features creates outsized customer delight — so they should be a priority on your roadmap. 

Performance features

Performance features are expected features where the level of satisfaction is directly correlated with the level of investment. 

Performance features include things like: 

  • Long-lasting battery life on a phone or laptop
  • Greater storage space within a photo app

Customers need and expect these things. In general, the better they are, the more satisfied customers will be with them. That is: A laptop with a 12-hour battery life is more satisfying than a laptop with an 8-hour battery life. 

Performance features should have an ongoing place in your product roadmap, where you can continue iterating on them and improving them consistently. 

Pro tip: No-code development platforms like Bubble make it faster to iterate on performance features — and build excitement features! With Bubble, you can streamline development time with a visual, no-code editor to iterate quickly, build new features faster, and exceed customer expectations. 

The easiest way to stand out from the competition? Move so fast they can’t keep up. 

Basic features

Basic features are the ones that your users need and expect from your product. That is: 

  • A smartphone needs to have calling (and texting) capabilities 
  • A social media app needs to allow you to post updates and add friends 
  • A productivity app needs to have a way to keep track of your to-dos 

With basic features, you need to invest more in them upfront simply to meet customer expectations. They may not generate a huge increase in customer response, even if they’re great, but having poor basic features can cause customer dissatisfaction. 

As such, these are core features that need to be on your roadmap, especially in the early stages. 

Indifferent features

Finally, indifferent features are ones that your customers simply don’t care about or don’t need. Investing in them won’t delight customers nor frustrate them. This could be things like: 

  • A smart fridge that displays the weather 
  • A photo storage app that syncs with my calendar 
  • A checkout feature that allows me to share my receipt with other email addresses

Most users don’t need to check the weather from their smart fridge, or sync their photos with their calendar, so these features aren’t needed or wanted. As such, they should be avoided on your roadmap since investing in them will be a waste of time and resources. 

Some teams chart five categories for a Kano analysis, adding “reverse features” or “negative features.” These are features that would create customer dissatisfaction and are considered unwanted. 

What are the benefits of the Kano model? 

The Kano model is a unique prioritization framework, but it has several helpful benefits: 

  • It emphasizes customer preferences. By focusing on customer preferences in prioritization, the Kano model is especially effective at helping teams deliver on customer expectations and delight users. 
  • It offers clear priorities. Using the Kano model sorts your features into clear categories that divide new features into “focus on” and “ignore for now” segments, which reduces complexity when roadmapping
  • It doesn’t require prior internal data. Many models require estimates of time, effort, or revenue to sort features. This can be difficult for early-stage startups that don’t have that data yet. The Kano model focuses on customer needs and expectations to help you identify essential and innovative features, no additional internal data needed.
  • It allows you to weigh new features against improving current ones. The Kano model uniquely allows product managers to measure customer preferences for both new features and current ones, which makes it easier to determine which are most valuable to work on. Should you prioritize improving under-performing existing functionality, or developing innovative new features? Kano can help you figure that out. 

When should you use the Kano model? 

The Kano model is a great framework for teams who: 

  • Want to emphasize user satisfaction in their prioritization strategy 
  • Are in the early stages of product development 
  • Need to identify must-have features for early-stage development 
  • Want to find the standout features that can set your product apart  

On the flip side, getting accurate analysis for the Kano framework can require a lot of customer research and feedback. The typical way to build out a Kano framework is via a user questionnaire. Depending on your resources and user base, this can be impractical or time-consuming.

Kano model example

An example can be helpful for getting a better idea of how all the pieces of this framework fit together. 

Let’s say you’re building a roadmap for a calendar app startup designed to help busy execs manage their time and schedule. 

Basic features would be things like the ability to add events and tasks to the calendar. Customers aren't going to be exceptionally satisfied by this feature alone, but without it, they wouldn’t even consider your solution. It’s a core need for customers to be satisfied. 

A performance feature would be the ability to sync calendars effortlessly across different email addresses, platforms, or accounts. If your app allows them to add multiple calendars, but not sync, customers will be moderately satisfied. However, if customers can sync calendars from multiple accounts and emails, share calendars, and so on, they’ll be much more satisfied. The greater your app's ability to do this easily, the more satisfied users will be. 

An excitement feature could be the ability to auto-schedule tasks to their calendar or use AI to time-block their day based on existing to-do lists and meetings. This feature isn't expected from a calendar app, but if included, it could have an outsized impact on customer delight or usefulness. 

An indifferent feature would be the ability to send emails from your calendar app. It may not upset customers, but since most users don’t need that ability, it won’t factor into their level of satisfaction at all.  

A negative feature could be a feature that automatically sends countdown alerts to all calendar event attendees every day leading up to a meeting or event. Such a feature would be annoying and impractical, and most users would be frustrated by it. 

Implementing Kano model results 

Over time, customer expectations change, and so features may change categories as well. 

Ten years ago, having a camera feature on your mobile phone may have been seen as a performance, or even an excitement feature. Today, it’s a basic feature that customers expect.

As such, you shouldn’t take your Kano model results as the be-all and end-all. Instead, continue to work with the Kano model over time to meet your customer’s needs. As you do so, you can iterate to improve product-market fit,satisfaction, and delight. 

One of the easiest ways to make this happen is by using a full-stack, no-code software development tool like Bubble. With no-code, you can make development happen faster (and more affordably!) than before, which means speedier go-to-market timelines and quicker iteration. 

TL; DR: You can build what your customers want, when they want it — and always stay ahead of the curve. 

So what are you waiting for? 

Give your customers the solutions they’ve been dreaming of. Start building your excitement features — for free! — on Bubble today.