Adapted from http://businesslibrary.uflib.ufl.edu/industryresearch
Step 1: Identify the Industry
Make a list of appropriate keywords to use when searching databases, including broader and narrower terms. For example, when looking for information on the "Computer industry" you can focus your search by using more specific terms such as “personal computers” or “legacy systems” or broaden it to the entire "Electronics industry". After compiling your list of keywords, find relevant Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and North American Industry Classification (NAICS) codes <see box>
Step 2: Locate Industry Surveys, Overviews & Reports
Check the above databases such as MarketLine, ABI/nform and Business Source Complete.
Step 3: Find Current News and In-depth Articles About the Industry
Articles published in leading business magazines, trade journals and newspapers often provide added depth and insight into an industry’s structure, strategy and competition. Again, Business Source Complete and ABI/Inform are best bets here.<see above> For news, see our Newspaper Guide.
Step 4: Visit Industry Web sites and Leading Industry and Trade Associations
Nearly every type of business has one or more trade or professional associations to promote its interests and provide a forum to collect and share information. Use Business.com to find important industry-related Web sites, publications and associations. Search engines and directories such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and others can easily identify relevant sites. Articles often mention trade and industry associations by name that can then be looked up in these sources.
Step 5: Look for Business-to-Business Marketplaces
The Internet has spawned a new phenomenon: the Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketplace. These are Web sites oriented towards facilitating electronic commerce. B2Bs are “business communities” that keep members up-to-date on news and issues that concern their industry, offer buyers’ guides, storefronts, auctions, training, education, career guidance and other services. Some industries have their own “portals"; just Google the industry and portal Jayde B2B Search Engine is a searchable directory of B2B sites. You may also use Google and the other Internet search engines and directories to identify sites. ThomasNet.com is a business directory that identifies suppliers and offers product sourcing.
Step 6: Make a List of Leading Companies (Rankings)
Learn who the industry leaders are. See the box to the side for ideas on where to find this. Most of the articles databases can be searched for articles about industry leaders.
Step 7: Find Market Share Data and Other Industry Statistics
MarketLine and Statista are both good places to try, as is Stats Canada and Industry Canada <see boxes above and beside>
Step 8: Use financial documents from Leading Companies to Gain Industry Insight
See the Financial Information box on the Companies tab
Step 9: Compare Company/Industry Norms and Financial Ratios
See the Ratios box for sources for this.
Step 10: Put It All Together
You now have all the information you need for an accurate picture of your industry.