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Economics and Business: Industry Research

Industry Research Tips

To understand a company an its competitors, you need to understand the industry of which it is a part.

Finding information about an industry includes the following steps:

  1. Get an overview of the industry (market research, industry summaries)
  2. Look for articles on trends for forecasts
  3. Gather statistics from government agencies and trade associations
  4. Explore trade associations for additional information about an industry

Potential problems:

  • Data from one source may not match another 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. 
    Look for targeted market research to address these markets
  • Quality, availability and cost of association information varies widely.  Some of it is only available to members while some data can be free.
  • Emerging industries are difficult to research.  Data may not be available and trends may not have been established.

Industry Profiles

Industry Surveys can be used for information about the current business environment, regulations, developments, and issues that impact companies operating within that industry.
It should explain how the industry operates, who the leading companies are, and facts about suppliers and regulations

Trade Publications

Trade Associations (also called trade groups, industry groups, business associations, etc.) are often the only place to find current statistics or trends for an industry. 
They exist at the local, regional, national, or international level and may publish information for practitioners in the industry.
They are very useful for learning the vocabulary of an industry, the key players, and current issues or trends.


is a primier resource for industry research and statistics.

American FactFinder is the statistical tool for the Census Bureau .
Use the "Quick Search" box to search by NAICS code or industry description.

Industry Codes

Industry Classification Code

are helpful for finding industry information since many databases allow you to search by industry code.

NAICS and its precursor SIC organize businesses into categories. 

Note: NAICS is the main standard although some agencies and databases continue to use the SIC system.

Industry Information

Office of Industry Analysis

  • Evaluate the potential effects of U.S government regulations and domestic policies on industries.
  • Maximize U.S. gains in trade negotiations and support U.S. trade laws.
  • Provide trade and industry data to underpin the development of national economic policies.
  • Industry regulations, Trade statistics and laws.

Statistical Universe

  • Search industry or product name for sales data.


  • Public company and competitor information.
  • Large industry outlook publications.

Zipcode Data on Industries

  • Number of industries and businesses located in a zipcode area.

Industry Snapshots

  • Economic Census with US map and data

Hoover's online the ultimate source for company information

  • Coverage: current
    Company financial information with links to official company web pages.