Yale School of Management

Center for Customer Insights

Advancing the frontiers of consumer understanding

Discovery Projects

Discover new insights + new ways of thinking.
Experience a real-world challenge.
Impact a global organization.
All in one 6-credit, 14-week project. 

Fall 2019 Discovery Partners:

F19 Discovery Partners


Discover new ways of thinking about customers and  leadership, and gain a deeper understanding about how you think and present. Learn Yale’s proprietary Insights Discovery Process, which builds on the latest theories in behavioral science. There’s also a healthy dose of self-discovery as faculty pushes you to challenge the intellectual rigor of your thinking.


Work on a real project—not just theories. Gain firsthand experience tackling a real-world challenge facing a business leader, with the underlying “cushion” of senior faculty leadership and alumnus mentorship.  Learn how to go from problem to insight, and how to use insights to generate creative strategies and recommendations.


Generate insights that can drive meaningful change within an organization and learn from senior leadership about how your team’s ideas might be used during key client milestones. Having the support and guidance of faculty along the way will ensure that your final deliverables are both innovative and impactful.

Fall 2019 Discovery Projects:

Craft Brew Alliance 

Craft Brew Alliance offers a portfolio that includes some of the world’s best-loved American craft beers (e.g. Kona, Red Hook).  The CEO, Andy Thomas, decided in 2018 to pursue a partnership with YCCI in order to drive growth with white space innovations that are grounded in a deep understanding of today’s changing consumer landscape. 

In this project, you’ll dive deep into the minds of two key groups of stakeholders, Millennials and Gen Z, in order to better understand and anticipate changing trends such as Health & Wellness, Sustainability, and Moderation. You’ll explore how the psychological motivations and beliefs around these topics affect beverage purchase and consumption (e.g. beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic alternatives such as seltzers) and learn how to connect these to meaningful implications for packaging, ingredients, and messaging.  You’ll then come up with recommendations for how CBA can best incorporate these insights into their innovation pipeline. After running rapid online experiments to test your ideas (e.g. A/B testing), you’ll give the CBA senior leadership team compelling ammunition to support further in-market testing via CBA’s new test and learn platform, the pH Experiment. For students interested in food and beverage, consumer products, health and wellness, hospitality, and retail, this project will offer opportunities to upskill on consumer-centric models of innovation, marketing analytics, and the retail landscape. You will travel to Portland, OR, to present your final presentations at CBA’s headquarters. 


Google is famous for its free meals and snacks, but with ~100,000 Googlers now employed worldwide, this effort is more akin to feeding a small nation than it is a workforce. The Google Food Team has been a YCCI partner for over 5 years and is focused on inspiring Googlers to thrive through food choices and experiences while promoting healthier, plant-forward, and sustainable eating (click here to read more about our earlier work).

In this project, you’ll bring the latest in Yale knowledge of studying human behavior to help Google anticipate changing snacking trends and behaviors for Millennials and Gen Z. This project will focus on understanding the psychological drivers of snack consumption and then utilize behavioral science to design nudges that increase consumption of healthier snacks. What are the different snacking occasions in the workplace setting and how do goals vary by occasion? For example, what are younger consumers looking for when they need fuel for a big meeting? How does snacking vary when they are looking for afternoon focus versus a pick-me-up to get them through the rest of the day? Findings will be used to help improve the happiness and healthiness of Googlers around the world.

This is the perfect project for students interested in the food and beverage / consumer products / hospitality areas to learn about consumer-centric models of innovations, marketing analytics and nudges at the point of consumption. You will travel to Mountain View, CA, to present your final findings at Googleplex.


This project is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in digital marketing, media and entertainment, or tech to explore the ways in which digital and social are changing how video content is consumed and created. The project will focus on investigating social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and how they differ from streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. In particular, you’ll explore how consumers decide what to watch and on what platform.

In this project, your insights and recommendations will be used by Viacom Digital Studios—a cornerstone of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s digital roadmap—to develop content, messaging and advertising to grow Viacom’s presence on channels like YouTube for key franchises such as MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Nickelodeon. You will present your findings to Viacom senior leadership at their headquarters in Times Square.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

Whether you’re marketing digital content, a financial investment or an important cause, business leaders must create a sense of urgency to motivate others to act. In this project, students will partner with an environmental organization to spur change in business and society.

In 2018, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) embarked on a major initiative called the Ocean Twilight Zone (OTZ) Project, designed to transform our understanding of the relatively unknown Twilight Zone (the band of ocean 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface) and preserve its resources. The Twilight Zone has rapidly become a target of commercial fishing due to its wealth of untapped sources of protein, but harvesting the Twilight Zone before we fully understand its role in supporting life on Earth could result in irreversible harm.  

In this project, you will use the latest principles in behavioral science to uncover what motivates people to act and how these tactics can be utilized in marketing to drive action in support of important social and environmental causes. This project is a good fit for students looking to build core skills while wielding a large impact, as well as for those interested in exploring how to authentically market across public and private stakeholders on socially-sensitive topics. At the end of the project, you will visit Cape Cod to present your findings to the WHOI senior leadership team.

What will I learn?

Rigorous critical thinking skills and the ability to translate learnings from data into strategic recommendations are valued in leaders across industries and sectors. Whether you’re going into consulting, strategy, design or marketing, you will benefit from learning how to more effectively and succinctly present your ideas in team meetings, oral presentations, and written PowerPoint slides.

Methods and Theories Frequently Used:

  • Behavioral Economics / Behavioral Science

  • Beliefs-Goals-Choices  Framework

  • Nudges

  • Habits

  • 4 P’s Framework

  • Decision Making / Decision Science

  • Yale Insights Discovery Process

  • Design Thinking / Innovation Through Customer Empathy

  • Big Data Analytics

  • Concept Testing

  • Survey Creation & Experimentation

  • In-Depth Behavioral Interviews

  • Ethnography

  • Social Media Scraping

Frequently Asked Questions

How many course credits will I earn for the project?
6 credits

How many points should I save for this course?
The course is by application only.  You do not need to use your points to bid on this course.

Who can apply?
In the fall, the course is open to second-year MBA students, incoming MMS students, and incoming MAM students.  In the spring, the course is open to first- and second-year MBA students and current MMS and MAM students. 

When are applications due?
For Fall 2019, the application deadline is Wednesday, July 17, 2019.  For Spring 2020, students will receive an email with application information during the fall semester. Please don’t wait until the last minute to apply. We appreciate and note early applications.

What are some tips to strengthen my application? 
Apply to more than one project to increase your likelihood of being selected.  You can note your order of preference  in your statement of interest, along with why you’d be a great fit for your top choice.

A Few Practical Notes

These are highly selective projects that are very time intensive, with an increased workload prior to the midterm and final presentations.  You will earn six (6) credits upon successful completion of this course.  

Student Responsibilities:

- Attend mandatory Discovery Project kickoff meetings,  held between August 28 and September 6.

- Plan to spend approximately 12 hours per week on this course, and potentially 14+ hours during midterm and final presentation prep. 

- Attend mandatory meetings each week with faculty advisors and student team.

- Conduct in-person interviews among consumers, generate insights, test insights, and provide recommendations to real firms.

- Travel to affiliate headquarters for final presentation.


- Final team oral presentation and PowerPoint presentation to the affiliate with midterm check-in.

- Complete a 5-7 page white paper summarizing findings.


Ravi Dhar, George Rogers Clark Professor of Management & Marketing and Director of the Yale Center for Customer Insights

Nathan Novemsky, Professor of Marketing 

Treeny Ahmed, Executive Director, Yale Center for Customer Insights.  Former marketing executive at Edible Arrangements.


With lessons from this course and real-world opportunity as a guide, I am able to better navigate the complexity and ambiguity of my research at Google with confidence.”      – Betsy Rives

Betsy Rives
Hear from Students 

This program is uniquely Yale and definitely worth exploring if you enjoy being challenged and pushing the bar for what excellence looks like day in and day out!

Challenging, engaging and ultimately rewarding work…

The YCCI Discovery Project was a genuinely meaningful complement to my classroom experience and amplified my learning and growth during my first year at SOM in surprising ways.

Explore. Discover. Connect.