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Business Research Guide

A research guide relating to business, acounting, managment, marketing, sales, and business administration.

Industry Research Tips

To understand a company and its competitors, you need to understand the industry of which it is a part, even if you are looking for information about a niche industry. 

Finding information about an industry includes the following steps:

  • Get an overview from an industry report (see box below)
  • Look for articles on trends and see if you can find forecasts
  • Gather information and data from government agencies and trade associations.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Data from one source may not match another resource, both in terms of data and definition of an industry. 
  • Small industries are often reported as part of larger industries in government data and other information sources. 
  • Some industry information found on the internet may only be available for a cost or for members only.
  • Emerging industries can be difficult to research. Data may not be available and trends may not have been established. 

Using NAICS Codes for Industry Research

When researching industry information, it is helpful to find the NAICS code for that industry. NAICS (rhymes with lakes) is the abbreviation for the North American Industry Classification System. It is an organizational structure used by federal agencies for grouping similar companies into industries for the purposes of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. A NAICS code is usually a 5-6 digit number, such as 44411 for Home Improvement Stores in the US.

A NAICS code provides a uniform name for an industry. You can search many of the business databases by a code, and doing so ensures that you're finding consistent industry information, regardless of the term used to describe it.

NAICS codes are assigned to a company based on the company's primary business activity (note that some companies have multiple NAICS codes depending on their products and services). When searching a company in Business Insights: Global, you'll see a list of the primary industries associated with the company, along with the NAICS code for each industry.

Finding Industry Reports

Industry research reports contain an analysis of an industry's operating conditions, trends, challenges and opportunities, competitive landscape, and much more. When you're researching a company, it is useful to also research the industry to which it belongs to give you an understanding of the company's position in the marketplace.

There may not be an industry report that matches your business exactly. You may need to look at a broader industry for clues. A smaller niche industry or market may have no industry report at all; you may need to do some internet searching for information.

Industry Research - Government Resources

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