18.6. Kano Method: "What Customer Needs Should We Target for New Product Ideas?"

One of the most daunting tasks of early NPD is to choose the customer need(s) that will be fulfilled with the new product. The Kano method is useful to classify customer needs so NPD efforts can be better focused. The Kano method asks customers to classify their needs into three categories:

  • Exciter. A need that has the potential to delight, but that is not expected. For automobiles, an example of an exciter is being able to close electric windows even after the driver has turned off the ignition.

    Perceptual Mapping Do's and Don'ts


    • Use a perceptual map to find out what customers think of current products, before trying to develop new ones

    • Identify gaps in the market


    • Make the survey too long or tedious—buildin breaks

    • Use more than about eight products and 20ratings for each

  • More is better. Not having this need met is disliked, while getting it met is welcomed. An automotive example is fuel economy.

  • Must be: A need that must be met in order for the new product to be acceptable. For automobiles, an example of a "must be" is safety restraints in case of collisions.

Figure 18.4 summarizes the Kano classification. The vertical axis is customer satisfaction. The horizontal axis is the degree to which the need is met (left is unmet; right is fully met). Notice that there's only upside to "exciters." But there's only downside to "must be's." So "exciters" are more exciting to new product developers than ...

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