Prof. Kano devised a model that plotted the needs of the consumer against how well the product met that need. He created a 2 by 2 matrix that divided consumer needs into
Neutral Needs where the consumer was indifferent to the solution.
Basic Needs that the consumer takes for granted and only talks about them if they are missing.
Performance Needs which are measures that can be used to compare with the consumer's norm. They can be divided into cluster ( e.g in the UK - which carbon dioxide band for the cars we are considering) and differentiating performance (acceleration 0-60 mph).
Exciters - solutions to needs we didn't know we had as we did not realise the features-advantages-benefits existed so we did not articulate our need for them.... this is the area that insights discovery often reveals.
Over time an exciter becomes a performance need and then a basic need.
I remember when cars did not have heated rear windows so that early morning driving in winter conditions was not easy. At the time I worked in an office with 130 other engineering designers; one day a designer arrived with a rolled up piece of plastic. He unrolled it on his drawing board and we gathered round. There was a piece of wire snaking back-and forth to a connector at one corner; a length of cable with a cigar lighter plug at the end connected to the other wire. He explained it was a heater that you smoothed out on the car rear window and connected to the cigar lighter and it demisted the glass!. Lunchtime, Halfords, an auto accessories supplier was inundated by 100 plus people all fighting to get a rear screen demister. We all fitted them that weekend, swapping stories on the challenges the new device presented the following Monday.
Did they work? Better than nothing. Did they work long? Well just about one season. Were they successful? For a while eveybody seemed to buy them. What happened next? The kits got more sophisticated, with timers and temperature sensors that stopped overheating and prolonged element life. Then car makers started putting the plastic onto the glass as an option with built-in wiring and controllers,etc. Then the heating was embedded in the screen itself, zoning was controlled, etc, etc. Now I don't even ask about rear screen demisting/defrosting, I expect it to be there. If I buy a car and I find its not there (maybe bad wiring?) I would go mad at the dealer!
The advantage of Kano is it focuses attention on that topline... meeting and exceeding the consumer's expectations, whilst ensuring trade-offs do not impinge on the performance and basic needs of the consumers. In fact a good way of thinking about them is:
Will they (the new features) create a buzz; will I (the consumer) be bursting to tell everyone about what I have bought? If the answer is yes then we have created a memorable experience worth sharing. In other words the product/service and its usage has enabled an positive EXPERIENCE!
We have moved into successful delivery of "stuff" within the upper layers of Maslow!