Here is a great little video in which Clayton Christense describes real world examples of how proper user research can lead to actionable insight on consumer behavior.
Consider the following scenario:
A Milkshake Business wants to improve their product in order to generate more sales.
- The business approaches the problem by asking “How can we make the quintessential milkshake (what flavors should we offer, and to what price)”
- The marketing specialist approaches the problem by asking “Who is the customer and why do they want a milkshake?” What are the attributes, goals, and needs of the customer and how can the business use this insight in order to sell more milkshakes? Why do customers chose a milkshake over a donut or a banana?
In this case, the marketing specialist will be more equipped to solve the problem at hand and generate more relevant ideas on how to increase sales.
The bottom line here is:
Focusing on improving an experience rather than a product will ultimately lead to more relevant insight into how to reach business goals.