Guest editorial

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 13 June 2008


Dahlgaard, J.J. (2008), "Guest editorial", The TQM Journal, Vol. 20 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: The TQM Journal, Volume 20, Issue 4

The First European Conference on Kansei Engineering

The papers selected for this special issue were all except one presented at the 10th International Conference on Quality Management and Organisational Development (QMOD), which took place at Lund University, Campus Helsingborg, Sweden, 18-20 June, 2007. For further information see More than 200 participants from 38 countries presented about 160 high quality papers at the QMOD conference, making it a success and marking a milestone in the QMOD history.

As the QMOD conference celebrated its ten years jubilee in 2007 we felt that this was the right time to officially introduce the research field of Kansei engineering to QMOD participants by organising the first European Conference on Kansei Engineering integrated into the QMOD conference and in this way contributing to the spread of knowledge about the Kansei engineering methodology and tools to a wider audience. The integrated conference - the First European Conference on Kansei Engineering - which was run as one of five main parallel session tracks became a great success. In total, 32 papers were presented.

What was interesting to observe was that the Kansei sessions were very popular and we had to change the planned session rooms so that the Kansei sessions could take place in one of the biggest auditoriums. Many QMOD participants were curious about Kansei engineering and wanted to know more about the subject. As a consequence of this great interest among the participants The TQM Journal decided to publish a special issue on Kansei/affective engineering design in 2008 (issue 4). This is the background of this special edition which I have worked on during several months, together with the authors of the selected papers.

The selection base was the 32 Kansei papers presented - grouped into 14 European papers, 14 Japanese papers and four other papers (Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, and Mexico). One general observation from the conference was that delegates from both academia and business emphasized the need for more Kansei research and also for spreading the applications to new areas. Another observation was that Kansei engineering is in fact widening its application areas from traditional product design to service design areas. Applying Kansei engineering within these new application areas requires strong collaboration from different research disciplines ranging from social to engineering sciences.

Kansei engineering toolkits to evaluate and analyze Kansei data are under development by several research groups in Europe, as well as Japan/Asia. Such toolkits were regarded as having the power to attract more interest from companies to implement Kansei engineering in the near future.

The selected papers

It is natural in this pioneering special issue of The TQM Journal first to present the paper “Perspectives and the new trend of Kansei/affective engineering” written by the pioneer and founder of Kansei engineering, Mitsuo Nagamachi, Japan.

Nagamachi declares that Kansei engineering (KE) aims to develop products that people want to have deeply in their mind. The term kansei is a Japanese word and implies psychological feeling and needs in mind. Before purchasing a passenger car, for example, one may have images in mind of “a powerful engine”, “easy operation”, “beautiful and premium exterior”, “cool and relaxed interior” and so on. These words express the kansei, and the consumers really want to have such a vehicle if the manufacturer succeeds in realizing a vehicle fitting to their imaginations. Nagamachi claims however that we have not ever had such a science and technology which can treat psychological feelings and needs (kansei) technologically, but Kansei engineering is able to grasp the consumers’ kansei on a psychological basis, to analyze the kansei using statistical methods, and to transfer the analyzed data into the design domain. In his article Nagamachi presents and discusses the different KE methods and shows various products which have been developed by using Kansei engineering.

The second paper in the selection, “Kansei/affective engineering design - a methodology for profound affection and attractive quality creation”, is written by Professor Jens J. Dahlgaard et al. (members from the KE Research group at Linköping University, Sweden). The authors present a model of the KE methodology and illustrate how this model was applied on a simple example which all may understand - design of a new chocolate bar.

At the end of the article the authors present and discuss the future of KE. The authors have observed that people today care more and more about whether products and services match and appeal to their feelings, emotions, personal life styles, identities, and even moral/ethical preferences. The most attractive products/services of tomorrow will in the authors’ view be designed to satisfy all dimensions of human needs - manifest as well as latent needs. To be successful companies have to attain a profound understanding of the complexity of different human needs and the power of satisfying these needs. Hence, the research foundation of affective/Kansei engineering should in the authors’ view aim at understanding and balancing the satisfaction of the “Trinity of Human Needs” (Dahlgaard-Park, 2003):

  1. 1.

    physical or biological needs;

  2. 2.

    mental/psychological needs (embracing emotional, intellectual, social and aesthetic needs); and

  3. 3.

    spiritual or ethical needs.

By understanding the “Trinity of Human Needs” and by making efforts to build these complex human needs into new products and services Kansei/affective engineering researchers will definitely be able to contribute with quite new research applications which may increase people’s quality of life. By working more explicitly with the “Trinity of Human Needs”, affective/Kansei engineering may also be able to give clear input to understanding and developing a company’s image and product branding which match better to the increased awareness and demands of sustainability. This should in the authors’ view be one of the core applications of “New Kansei/affective engineering”.

The authors then suggest a structural model as a possible expanded framework for future Kansei/affective engineering research studies. According to the model profound affection is a result of the following six enabler factors:

  1. 1.

    Sensing experience;

  2. 2.

    emotional experiences (kansei);

  3. 3.

    behavioural experiences/action;

  4. 4.

    social experiences/interactions & relations;

  5. 5.

    spiritual experiences/moral, ethics; and

  6. 6.

    intellectual experiences/cognition.

The authors define “Profound Affection” as a very comprehensive state, which is a result of a combination of sensing, intellectual/cognitive, emotional, social, behavioural and spiritual experiences. “Profound Affection” is not only a result of sensing or emotional experiences.

Because the Japanese terminology Kansei gives associations of sensing and emotional aspects only and does not embrace other essential aspects such as spiritual, intellectual, social aspect the authors suggest adopting the terminology of affective engineering design, instead of Kansei engineering, when the research aims at understanding the broader scope of “Profound Affection”.

The next article, “Customer experience management - influencing on human kansei to management of technology”, is written by Professor Shin’ya Nagasawa, Waseda Business School, Japan. In his article, Nagasawa presents and discusses the concept of customer experience, which has been effectively used as a concrete theory to organically combine people’s kansei or feeling and psychology into the making of products. Furthermore, the concept of customer experience also helps to understand hit products and brand successes.

Nagasawa exemplifies customer experience by discussing the following five modules of strategic experience values:

  1. 1.

    sensory experience value;

  2. 2.

    emotional experience value;

  3. 3.

    intellectual experience value;

  4. 4.

    behavioral experience value; and

  5. 5.

    relative experience value.

Nagasawa then illustrates these five modules of experience values in his analysis of four different hit products case stories.

By using the five modules of experience values to explain hit products there is a strong overlap to the structural model for creating a profound affection presented by Dahlgaard et al. in the previous article. This may not be a coincidence because hit products are in some way the result of a company having been successful in the design of a new product which has resulted in profound affection.

The fourth paper selected, “Kansei engineering approach for total quality design and continuous innovation”, is written by Professor Antonio Lanzotti and Pietro Tarantino from University of Naples, Italy. The paper aims at defining a structured process of continuous innovation in the product concept development phase by using a statistical-based Kansei engineering (KE) approach, which consists of the identification of quality elements satisfying both functional and emotional user needs, i.e. the total quality elements. As the approach developed integrates both the Kano methodology for attractive quality creation and Kansei engineering analyses this paper complements the previous papers. The proposed approach is exploited through a case study on train interior design developed in a virtual reality (VR) laboratory.

The fifth paper selected, “An e-commerce site for gift flower arrangements that fit kansei and social manners”, is written by Professor Keiko Ishihara et al., coming from Hiroshima International University, Japan. With this paper we are “back to Japan” again, and what could be more typical of Japan than flower arrangements? Maybe some of the readers will be inspired to develop a new business inspired by the contents of this article?

The authors describe an e-commerce site as a solution for proposing gift flower arrangements suiting the purchaser’s needs according to the integration of results of kansei evaluation and expertise of florists. The proposed system deals with flower arrangements using foams in containers. A purchaser inputs data such as the purpose of the present, relationship with the recipient, and budget. The system receives the data and then retrieves suitable flowers from the database according to the results of a kansei evaluation and social constraints. Then the system displays a list of possible flowers and types of arrangements.

The remaining four papers are selected from outside Japan (Canada, New Zealand, the UK and Sweden) and they illustrate well how the Kansei/affective engineering has spread to all parts of the world.

The sixth paper in this special edition, “Effect of SmartPhone aesthetic design on users’ emotional reaction: an empirical study”, is written by Parul Nanda et al., from an experience analysts research team, based in Ontario, Canada. The paper investigates emotional reaction of males to varying aesthetic design of the BlackBerry Pearl, a leading wireless SmartPhone solution (BlackBerry Pearl, 2007). Further, the paper empirically evaluates male preferences for the BlackBerry Pearl in different colours and overlay patterns. The term emotion is operationalised to refer to users’ preferences based on instinct rather than intellect.

The seventh paper, “Multi-modal visual experience of brand specific automobile design”, is written by Anders Warell, who is Professor at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. The paper presents a questionnaire study of brand-specific perceptions of automotive design using subjective rating methods. The purpose of the study was to explore the multiple modalities of the visual product experience of automobile design as perceived by the general public. Furthermore, the experiences were analysed using a framework for Visual Product Experience. Results from the study indicate that there is a correlation/relation between experiential modes, in that respondents tended to rate attributes consistently high or low across modes. This implies that if the aesthetics are not perceived as favourable, neither is the expression of the car. Furthermore, respondents’ assessments of aesthetic appeal and expression are on an average strikingly similar, suggesting that the level of aesthetic appeal correlates with the level of semantic understanding of the design. The general rating of emotional response follows a similar consistent pattern for the two studied cars.

The eighth paper selected, “Kansei engineering toolkit for the packaging industry”, is written by Dr Cathy Barnes et al., from the Affective Engineering Research Group, University of Leeds, UK. The paper presents a Kansei Engineering Toolkit for packaging design by using illustrative case studies. The authors present the application of the toolkit to “live” projects to show how each tool supports design development. In this case, relationships are constrained to product appearance alone. It is found that the suggested Kansei Engineering Toolkit has real value within the packaging development process to inform concept selection decisions based upon actual consumer data.

The ninth and the last paper selected, “Affective design of values in primary healthcare”, is written by Ebru Ayas et al. (PhD student from the Kansei Engineering Research at Linköpings University, Sweden). The authors have found that whilst considerable research has been devoted to apply affective (kansei) engineering for product design, there are no studies found for servicescape (physical surroundings) design in healthcare services. So the overall aim of the study is to find possible affective design solutions in a servicescape by utilizing Kansei engineering. Another aim with this study is to propose a framework methodology for exploring kansei values and perceived qualities towards waiting areas in health services. The study applied is a qualitative approach for data collection in the Kansei engineering methodology. A data mining technique is used to extract design solutions for a specific feeling.

Calm, pleasant and fresh feelings are determined towards creating values for patients for primary healthcare waiting rooms. “Calm” is found as the most desired feeling for creating values that would appeal to human kansei. The core design attributes explored for this feeling are privacy, colours, child play areas and green plants. Good design of lighting, seating arrangements and low sound level are also needed design elements to give a complete design view. Considering the technical qualities giving feelings of safety, functionality and privacy appear important for design of values. Based on interaction qualities, welcoming environment, with caring staff and giving attention to patients are needed. The results for perceived affective qualities from selected waiting areas showed significant differences.

With the selection of these nine papers it is my hope that the readers of The TQM Journal will be inspired for further studies of the area of Kansei/affective engineering, which I strongly believe has a lot to contribute to the further development of quality and TQM. As written above, people today care more and more about whether products and services match and appeal to their feelings, emotions, personal life styles, identities, and even moral/ethical preferences. The most attractive products/services of today and tomorrow will be designed to satisfy all dimensions of human needs - manifest as well as latent needs. Hence, quality and quality management must be further developed also to embrace the new dimensions covered within kansei/affective engineering.

Jens J. DahlgaardDivision of Quality Technology, Linköping University, Sweden