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Company and Industry Research: Industry Research

This guide will help you find information on public and private companies.

Overview of Industry Research

Industry research involves finding a variety of information relating to an industry. It could be something as straight forward as identifying the major players in an industry or market share to something as complex as finding industry specific statistics and financial ratios. The type of information you will find depends on the industry you're researching. Each industry has unique statistics and information.  

Compiled Industry Profiles

Starting Your Industry Research

Industry research involves finding a variety of information relating to an industry.  Company and industry research often go hand-in-hand.  You can begin by researching an industry and then the companies operating within it, or you can begin by researching a company and then moving to the industry in which it operates. 

As with company research, there are a number of initial questions you should ask before jumping into your research.

  1. What is the industry?  You should be able to clearly identify your industry.  If it is a niche industry consider also researching the broader industry under which it falls. For example, if you're researching craft beer you may also want to research the broader beer and alcoholic beverage markets.     
  2. What is the NAICS or SIC code for the industry?  These industry classifications may help you locate firms within your industry and identify benchmarks and statistics for the industry. 
  3. Are there alternative names for the industry?  There are often multiple ways to refer to an industry.  For instance, you may find information about the banking industry under a variety of names: banking, commercial lending, finance, financial services, personal lending, etc.  Think about other names for your industry.  
  4. What geographic region are you looking for?  You can find easily industry reports covering the US, foreign countries, world regions, and the entire world.  Knowing what you need to find will help you narrow your search and determine where to look.          
  5. What specific information do you need to find?  If you were not given a list of information to find you'll need to create the list on your own.  Follow this research method: brainstorm, identify sources, chunk, and research.

Industry Associations

Industry groups and trade associations are great places to find industry information. They often have industry statistics and reports available on their web sites. The reports are sometimes available for free to the public but may be for association members only.

Google is an easy way to find industry association web sites. 

Searching News and Magazines

Searching news and magazine databases is a great way to find information about specific industries.  The following databases should help you get started.

You can find more detail about these databases under the company research tab

Industry Classifications

Industry classifications are used to classify business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data.  The two most common classifications are the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) and the SIC (Standard Industrial Classification).

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