Total Quality Management Vol. 16, No.

10, 1127 –1137, December 2005

The Refined Kano’s Model and its Application
Chung-Yuan Christian University, Taiwan, Republic of China

ABSTRACT Kano’s model of five categories of quality attributes – attractive, one-dimensional, must-be, indifferent, and reverse quality – is widely used by industries and researchers. However, the model has a deficiency that prevents firms from precisely evaluating the influences of quality attributes. The weakness is a failure to take account of the degree of importance accorded to certain quality elements by customers. Kano’s model can be refined. The present study adds the importance of quality attributes and, in so doing, the refined model divides Kano’s first four categories into eight categories – highly attractive and less attractive, high value-added and low value-added, critical and necessary, and potential and care-free. Based on the refined model, firms can obtain a more accurate understanding of the quality attributes from the customer’s perspective, and can thus make more precise quality decisions. In addition to modifying Kano’s model, the present study also develops an importance – satisfaction (I– S) model. By integrating the refined Kano’s model and the I– S model firms can gather even more valuable information on quality decisions. The refined Kano’s model and the I – S model are illustrated with a case study. KEY WORDS : Kano’s model, importance – satisfaction model, highly attractive attribute, high value-added attribute, critical attribute

Introduction To sustain competitiveness and long-term profitability, companies devote themselves not only to the attraction of new customers, but also to the retention of old customers with a view to a continuing business relationship through incremental increases in purchases and the maintenance of customer loyalty (Gorst et al., 1998). Several studies have demonstrated that high loyalty and customer retention are associated with increased intention of future purchases (Eklof & Westlund, 1998), and that customer loyalty is dependent on the customer’s perception of the quality of the goods or services provided (Gorst et al., 1998; Sirohi et al., 1998). Industries therefore pursue quality in product and service in order to satisfy their customers.

Correspondence Address: Ching-Chow Yang, Department of Industrial Engineering, Chung-Yuan Christian University, Taiwan, Republic of China. Email: 1478-3363 Print=1478-3371 Online=05=101127–11 # 2005 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080=14783360500235850

. In the past. TQM. one-dimensional quality attribute: an attribute that is positively and linearly related to customer satisfaction – that is.. 1991). industries have implemented a range of quality management systems and standards. customer satisfaction has been perceived in one-dimensional terms – the greater the fulfilment of desired quality attributes. Kondo. 2001) and to win their long-term trust by creating products and supplying services that fulfil customer requirements and exceed their expectations. (1984) considered two aspects of any given quality attribute – an objective aspect involving the fulfilment of quality and a subjective aspect involving the customers’ perception of satisfaction. Indeed. The aims of these quality activities are to achieve customer satisfaction (Kano et al. Kano’s model of quality attributes . the greater the degree of customer satisfaction. attractive quality attribute: an attribute that gives satisfaction if present. quality attributes can be divided into five categories as follows: . ISO 9000. and the psychological aspect is related to the customer’s subjective response in terms of personal satisfaction (Schvaneveldt et al. Kano et al. Yang In the past two decades.-C. .. and so on. 1998). Several studies have therefore attempted to link the physical and psychological aspects of quality to see how specific attributes of a product or service actually relate to customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.1128 C. such as QCC. However. the pursuit of customer satisfaction and loyalty should be the main concern of all companies (Gorst et al. the higher would be customer satisfaction. Kano’s model is illustrated in Figure 1. Using this model. there are some quality attributes that fulfil individual customer expectations to a great extent without necessarily implying a higher level of customer satisfaction (Matzler & Hinterhuber. but that produces no dissatisfaction if absent. Similarly. the greater the degree of fulfilment of the attribute. 1996. 1998). where the physical aspect is concerned with the physical state or extent of the specific attributes. Figure 1.

for any quality attribute. this quality attribute is not only a necessary quality requirement but also a critical quality requirement. most customers consider an automatic gearbox to be more important than a luggage carrier. reverse quality attribute: an attribute whose presence causes customer dissatisfaction. must-be quality attribute: an attribute whose absence will result in customer dissatisfaction. Therefore. Matzler & Hinterhuber. but whose presence does not significantly contribute to customer satisfaction. trade-offs are sometimes necessary. 1984. It is critical to identify must-be quality attributes and to meet demand for these at a minimum threshold level at least.The Refined Kano’s Model and its Application 1129 . firms must consider the criteria that have the greatest influence on customer satisfaction (Matzler & Hinterhuber. 1997). However. its influence on customer satisfaction is closely related to the degree of importance attached to it by customers (Kristensen et al. With respect to the must-be quality attributes. in combination with quality function deployment. it can be defined as a necessary quality requirement. (1991) explored the applicability of Kano’s model to four mass-market services – retail banking. adding an automatic gearbox will create greater customer satisfaction than adding a luggage carrier. If two product requirements cannot be met simultaneously for technical or financial reasons. Miyakawa & Wong (1989) studied Kano’s model in manufactured goods. and these can then be used to focus on priorities for product or service development and improvement (Hinterhuber et al. Schvaneveldt et al. quality attributes that have the greatest influence on customer satisfaction can therefore be identified. . . Kano’s model can therefore be refined by taking into account the importance of certain quality attributes. 1992). in a car. Usually. and whose absence results in customer satisfaction. 1993). Once quality attributes are categorized. products and services can be designed to meet the different requirements for each quality attribute. The attractive quality attributes can be selected as competitive weapons to draw the attention of customers. Kano et al. but without being considered critical. (1984) empirically confirmed the applicability of their model for quality attributes of television product and other manufactured goods. Firms must also do their best on the one-dimensional attributes – which are typically articulated by customers as being a functionality they would desire. In contrast.. according to its category. Bolster et al.. and supermarkets. Using Kano’s model. family restaurants. Sa Moura & Saraiva (2001) used Kano’s analysis to develop an ideal kindergarten. Questionnaire surveys of customers can be used to categorize quality attributes (Kano et al. For example. an automatic gearbox and a luggage carrier are both attractive quality requirements.. The Refined Kano’s Model The most useful applications of Kano’s model are in the area of product and service development and improvement. Several researchers have studied Kano’s model. especially new customers (Rao et al. and .. Matzler & Hinterhuber (1998) demonstrated the applicability of Kano’s model.. 1997. indifferent quality attribute: an attribute whose presence or absence does not cause any satisfaction or dissatisfaction to customers. if a must-be quality attribute is considered less important. cleaning services. 1998). However. if such a quality attribute is also found to have high importance in the estimation of customers. using a case study from the ski industry. 1998).

depending on their degree of importance.1130 C. increasing such attributes will raise customer satisfaction. Categories of quality attributes in unrefined and refined Kano’s model Categories of quality attributes in Kano’s model Attractive One-dimensional Must be Indifferent Categories of quality attributes with high importance in refined model Highly attractive High value-added Critical Potential Categories of quality attributes with low importance in refined model Less attractive Low value-added Necessary Care-free With respect to one-dimensional quality attributes. Table 1 lists the redefined categories of quality attributes obtained by refining Kano’s model. curves are used to illustrate the means of the redefinitions of quality attributes. The indifferent quality attributes are referred to in this study as care-free quality attributes. whereas others can be classed as low value-added attributes. Figure 2. whereas those of lesser importance can be classified as less attractive quality attributes. it can be defined as a potential quality attribute because it does have some potential to attract customers. Refined Kano’s model of quality attributes . if an indifferent quality attribute does possess higher importance than another. However. The indifferent quality attributes can therefore be classed as carefree or potential. It is therefore possible to define some one-dimensional quality attributes with high importance as high value-added quality attributes. A one-dimensional quality attribute is therefore a value-added quality attribute. In Figure 2.-C. For the attractive quality attributes. Yang Table 1. those with high importance can be classified as highly attractive quality attributes.

firms need not offer these attributes in view of cost considerations. Low value-added quality attribute These attributes make less contribution to customer satisfaction. These brief descriptions demonstrate how the refined Kano’s model can help firms make accurate decisions on quality planning. these quality attributes can be discarded if cost considerations demand this. 3.The Refined Kano’s Model and its Application 1131 The redefinitions of the categories of quality attributes according to the refined model allow firms to make quality decisions with more precision. . a washing machine. one of which is a home-appliance manufacturer. a refrigerator. Kano’s one-dimensional attributes High-value-added quality attributes These make a high contribution to customers’ satisfaction. Necessary quality attributes Firms can meet these at a required level to avoid dissatisfying customers. Kano’s indifferent quality attributes Potential quality attributes These attributes will gradually be coming the attractive attributes. The firms also need to avoid providing too less level of these attributes to dissatisfied customers. Kano’s attractive attributes Highly attractive quality attributes These are good weapons for firms to attract potential customers. and a television. Applications A Practical Example of the Refined Model The author has conducted several kinds of surveys for many companies. In this article. 4. These represent strategic attribute offerings. The following descriptions illustrate the application of the refined model. Firms should therefore make efforts to provide such attributes to customers. Firms can consider providing these as strategic weapons to attract customers in the future. 1. Care-free quality attributes If necessary. Less attractive quality attributes Because these have little attraction to customers. together with service quality associated with these products. Kano’s must be quality attributes Critical quality attributes These are essential to customers. 2. But firms cannot afford to ignore these attributes. Firms must provide sufficient fulfilment of these attributes to customers. the example of the air-conditioner is used for further discussion of the application of the refined Kano’s model. The survey for this company covered the product quality of various goods including an air-conditioner. They therefore can lead to increased revenue.

the method suggested by Kano et al. As with all one-dimensional attributes. the greater the customer perception of satisfaction. According to the refined model. including the end users and the consignees of these home appliances. the importance of quality attributes. It might seem that these should all be of high importance. The purpose of customer interviews and internal panel discussion was to determine the quality attributes to be contained in the questionnaire.1132 C. Indeed. Among the attributes of lesser importance (numbers 13 to 24 in Table 2). only one attribute (the guard net for the fin of the air-conditioner) was classified as being necessary (that is. only three belonged to the must-be category. due to the features of these attributes. and . It is possible for an attribute to be required. and these are therefore re-categorized as less attractive attributes. This becomes a necessary attribute in the refined model. (1984) was used to design the questionnaire. There are four attractive attributes. 24 quality attributes of the air-conditioner were developed for study. and the supervisors from the quality-assurance division and sales division. For the first two surveys. (The final column in Table 2 – the ‘category in the I– S model’ – is explained later in this paper. It is not difficult to understand that one-dimensional attributes and attractive attributes can be ranked as being of high importance or low importance. . The advantage of the refined model over the unrefined Kano’s model is shown by the following example. the categorization of attributes according to Kano’s model. There are two attributes identified as indifferent. For the study of Kano’s model. The 24 quality attributes are listed in Table 2. five are onedimensional. Of the first 12 attributes. the greater the extent of this attribute. They are redefined in the refined model as critical attributes. the nominal group method was used to conduct two panel discussions. At the same time. The degrees of importance were assessed into two categories – ‘high’ importance if the degree of importance was greater than the mean for the 24 quality attributes. In the present research. As a result.) The first 12 attributes are above the mean and are therefore classed as being of ‘high importance’. the satisfaction of quality attributes. and are therefore redefined as low value-added attributes in the refined model. and ‘low’ if below the mean. Most of these attributes are one-dimensional. these one-dimensional attributes of high importance are categorized as high valueadded. now categorized as care-free attributes according to the refined model. This allowed classification of the categories according to the refined Kano’s model (see sixth column of Table 2). but still not rank highly in overall importance to consumers. sales personnel. Likert-type 5 scales were used.-C. must-be. but with low importance). Only one must-be attribute with low importance is identified in this research. The participants included service personnel. most of those must-be attributes are of high importance – but not all. The attributes ‘compressor noise’ and ‘free wind control and autolouver function’ are both categorized as one-dimensional attributes according to the . Yang A total of 20 key customers were first interviewed. The situation with must-be attributes is not as obvious. Three kinds of questionnaires were designed: . The questionnaires were mailed out to 1400 customers randomly and 150 valid questionnaires were returned.

92 3. the attribute with a smaller deviation is ranked higher.73 3.65 3.90 3.46 4.33 4.941 Satisfaction (mean) 3.65 3.75 3.06 4. Air-conditioner quality attributes Importance (mean) 4.77 3.07 4.95 3.97 3.66 3.678 Category in Kano’s model One-dimensional One-dimensional One-dimensional One-dimensional Must-be One-dimensional One-dimensional One-dimensional Must-be One-dimensional Must-be Attractive One-dimensional Attractive One-dimensional Attractive Must-be One-dimensional One-dimensional Attractive Attractive Indifferent One-dimensional Indifferent Category in refined Kano’s model High value-added High value-added High value-added High value-added Critical High value-added High value-added High value-added Critical High value-added Critical Highly attractive Low value-added Less attractive Low value-added Less attractive Necessary Low value-added Low value-added Less Attractive Less attractive Care-free Low value-added Care-free Category in I– S model To be improved Excellent To be improved Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent To be improved Excellent Excellent To be improved Excellent Care-free Surplus Care-free Care-free Surplus Care-free Surplus Surplus Care-free Care-free Care-free Care-free Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Quality attribute Compressor noise Durability of fan motor Outlet noise of air-conditioner Anti-erosion of heat exchanger Stainless base Ease of maintenance and cleaning Comfort Air-cleaning efficiency Temperature display (room and setting) Drop protection and drainage Inverter compressor Negative ions Price Material accordance of base and internal compressor surrounding Free wind control and auto louver function Cleaning instructions Guard net for fin Ease of portability and installation Attractiveness and design for external looks Wired and wireless control function Four key functions in one Universal remote control Cleanliness of surface Pre-order function of starting time Mean The Refined Kano’s Model and its Application 1133 Note: Ranking is according to level of importance.64 3.68 3.88 3.65 3.40 3.87 3.63 3.86 3.33 4.55 3.80 3.71 3.94 3.15 4.79 3.76 3.Table 2.02 3.54 3.65 3.60 3.93 3.77 3.95 3.35 3.75 3. .04 4.54 3.72 3.46 3.32 4.57 3.76 3.92 3.56 3. If two or more attributes have the same importance level.

The Importance –Satisfaction Model The above discussion leads to the development of a model referred to as the importance – satisfaction model (I – S Model) (Yang. Headley & Choi. this is not the only consideration. Business management normally focuses on improvements to quality elements that are unsatisfactory in the estimation of customers. whereas the ‘wind control and auto-louver function’ is of low value-added (and therefore of lesser importance to the firm). As a result. However. This is a very important concept. However. 1987. a firm will pay similar attention to these two attributes. when the firm recognizes the categories of these attributes according to the refined model. The order pair (importance scale. the overall quality evaluation from customers can be very poor. Firms can thus obtain much valuable information for improvements from a comparison between the satisfaction levels and the degree of importance of quality attributes. according to the refined model. If customers’ satisfaction on these important attributes falls to a low level. since customers evaluate quality by using quality attributes that they recognize as important (Deming. and the vertical dimension shows the satisfaction level of the quality attribute. The importance – satisfaction model . 1986. the horizontal dimension shows the degree of importance of a quality attribute. the ‘compressor noise’ attribute is seen to be a high value-added attribute (and therefore of greater significance to the firm). In this model. According to the unrefined model. 2003). the firm will adopt very different strategies towards the two attributes. King. Firms can simultaneously take care of the satisfaction level of quality attributes and their degree of importance. 1992).-C. satisfaction scale) can then be located on the Figure 3. Yang rules of Kano’s model. those quality attributes which customers consider to be highly important and which have a lower satisfaction level are those that management needs to address as a first priority for improvements.1134 C. This is illustrated in Figure 3. Therefore.

these are the attributes that can be eliminated without incurring a significant negative impact on the customer satisfaction. Figure 4. The display of the I – S model for Table 2 . Retention of customers requires that performance in these attributes be continued. The results are displayed in Figure 4. Surplus area: The attributes listed in this area are not very important to customers. The means of the importance scale and the satisfaction scale can be used to divide the coordinate into four areas. but the perceptions of customers are quite satisfactory. The company does not need to worry about these attributes. III. To be improved area: The quality attributes listed in this area are those considered as important to customers but for which the performances have not met with expectation. . but which they also rank as being less important. If the company needs to cut costs.The Refined Kano’s Model and its Application 1135 coordinates. it can nevertheless provide much useful information about a company’s quality performance. The last column of Table 2 shows the I– S category for each of the quality attributes discussed in the empirical study. The company must focus on these attributes and make improvements immediately. I. as follows: . . The model can be applied to the empirical study described above. and for which the performance is satisfactory to customers. Excellent area: The attributes located in this area are those that customers considered to be important. Even though this importance –satisfaction model is a simple structure. IV. The company can put these quality attributes aside. II. because these items have less impact on the whole quality-evaluation process. Care-free area: These quality attributes are those about which customers have a lower satisfaction level. .

It is the contention of this paper that firms can analyse the categories of quality attributes according to both the refined Kano’s model and the I– S model. . . some are considered to be important and some are not. . This enables firms to obtain much more valuable .-C. This therefore represents a very good competitive weapon. but only one attribute is critical. Analyses of this type are very useful and valuable for the company.1136 C. and they evaluate the quality by using several attributes that are important from their perspective. Customers are the only judges of quality in goods and services. On this basis. three attributes are high value-added. In the to be improved area. There are three critical attributes – two are located in the excellent area. . As a result. Although the attribute dealing with the price of the air-conditioner is located in the carefree area. . quality attributes can be divided into more precise categories. Conclusion Kano’s model is a good tool for industries to use in analysing key quality attributes in order to make better decisions on quality strategies. the present study has integrated this ‘importance’ concept into Kano’s model – thus developing a new refined model. . . they are also identified as care-free attributes in the refined model. There are only two indifferent attributes (denoted by numbers 22 and 24). According to the refined Kano’s model. These are listed in the care-free area. degree of importance is a critical dimension considered by customers when they are evaluating the quality performance. If the company wants to reduce costs. . The important points to be noted are as follows. it is very close to the to be improved area. these attributes can be considered. There are two less attractive attributes (denoted by numbers 14 and 20 in Table 2) that are located in the surplus area. but it is not considered to be important. Thus. but not all. much valuable information can be obtained. It is of interest that the company has also emphasized the importance of this point in its advertising. For one-dimensional attributes and attractive attributes. The attribute dealing with the guard for the fin of the air conditioner is treated as must-be. There is one highly attractive attribute that is located in the excellent area. and therefore the company has no need to pay much attention to these two attributes. But the unrefined model has a deficiency in that the degree of importance of quality attributes is neglected. Yang From the data in Table 2 and the display of Figure 4. It is therefore classified as a necessary attribute. An increasing number of companies conduct surveys of customers. the company must still pay attention to this attribute. This means that company has ascertained the critical nature of these attributes. Most of the must-be quality attributes are found to be important. The company can make better decisions with respect to product quality by referring to the models presented here. and has also provided them to a sufficient extent. This is the attribute relating to ‘negative ions’.

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