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Kano's Needs


Explanations > Needs > Kano's needs

 Basic needs | Performance needs | Excitement needsSo what?


Japanese consultant Noriaki Kano has produce a simple diagram that was intended for use in understanding business customer needs, but also is applicable to general psychological situations.



Basic needs

Basic needs are similar to Herzberg's hygiene needs, in that meeting these needs does not lead to satisfaction. They are the things that we expect to get without having to ask for them. When they are being met, we hardly notice them. When we buy a second-hand car, we expect it to have five fully-inflated tires with good amount of tread on them. If we got home and found the spare was bald and punctured, we would not be happy bunnies.

Basic needs can be found by watching what people complain about. Look in customer complaints. Ask people about their worst experiences. People often like to have a good moan and once you've got them going, they will be a gold mine for identifying basic needs.

Performance needs

Performance needs are those things which are at the top of our consciousness and which we will deliberately seek. If these are well met we are happy; if they are not well met, we become dissatisfied. When buying a second-hand car, these are the things that we will ask about, such as traction control and modern styling.

Performance needs come from two sources. When basic needs have not been met before, they may escalate next time to performance needs. More commonly, they come from expectations that have been set, either from such as magazines and friends or by the persuader. Thus the car salesperson may point out that the new safety protection system is something that every family is asking about these days.

Performance needs are easy to find: just ask what people want. Sometimes they will even have written out a checklist. 

Excitement needs

Beyond basic and performance needs, you can still impress the other person. Excitement needs are those things that we did not expect, those little extras that make us gasp with delight. Thus you may be amazed by a new hands--free radio system or even something as simple as a soft-hold padded steering wheel.

A simple equation that has been put forward fits here: Delight = Expectation + 1. This equates to doing small things beyond performance needs. It doesn't take much to delight someone. Additional excitement needs are often wasted, as once you have caught their imagination, then you cannot catch it more.

The essence of excitement is surprise, and the essence of surprise is unexpectedness. You can surprise by revealing carefully or sudden appearance.

After we have received an excitement need, it is no longer a surprise, and we may well ask for it next time, making it a performance need. Thus excitement needs need constant innovation. Coupled with the move of performance needs to basic needs, we can see a general drift downwards and to the right.

So what?

If you want to destabilize the other person, attack their basic needs, otherwise you make sure they are satisfied. Do not try to tempt people by offering to satisfy basic needs.

Listen carefully to their performance needs and find ways of meeting them. Remember: this is where they will be paying most attention.

Find small ways of delivering small and imaginative exciters. Do this elegantly in ways that surprise and delight. Do not over do this, especially not at the expense of performance and certainly not basic needs.

See also

Herzberg's needs

Understanding Customer Requirements (web page)


 Kano, N. Seraku, Takashi, F. and Tsuji, S. (1984) Attractive Quality and Must-Be Quality. Methurn, MA: GOAL/QPC


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