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Company & Industry Information: Industry Overview & Analysis

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to finding Company & Industry information.

Finding Industry Information

You may need industry information for a number of different purposes, e.g. to develop a marketing strategy for a company or product; to gather competitive intelligence; to evaluate investment opportunities.

Some things you may want to know about an industry:

  • current structure and performance
  • history
  • trends and forecasts
  • standards and technology
  • key companies.

There are several challenges in finding industry information:

  • industry definition: different information sources will cover different industries and may use different definitions of an industry
  • availability: information about small industries may be reported as part of larger industry groupings; emerging idustries may be difficult to research
  • quality: varies across sources, e.g. government sources, commercial sources, individual providers
  • cost: quality industry information is expensive

This guide identifies information sources that can help you learn about an industry. In this guide, we use the term "industry" in its broadest sense, to include the production or supply of all goods and services.

Government Sources

Industry Classification Codes

Industrial classification systems classify economic activities in countries and regions. There are several different classification systems applied to industries and products, and different information sources will use different classification systems to define industries and compile statistics about it.

In North America, the most common systems are Standard Industrial Classification, which has a US version and a Canadian version, and North American Industrial Classification System which also has some variations for Canadian application. In Canada and the US, the NAICS has succeeded the SIC, but the SIC is in use in other countries (for example, the UK)

Classification manuals provide a description of the industry/products for each classification number. This can be helpful in finding information in various sources that use the classification systems for compiling and publishing industry data. You can find industry classification manuals in the Library Catalogue by doing a Keyword search for industries and classification in the Subject field.

The Federal Reserve economist Alison Weingarden has created a crosswalk/conversion file to go between GICS and NAICS -- see

Then the researcher can go from NAICS to ISIC. See for example –

It seems there are no conversion charts that go directly from GICS to ISIC, but use the above workaround.

Finding Industry Information Online

Try looking for professional organizations related to the industry you are researching; many of them have great information. As well, some of the sites listed below may be helpful to you:

Porter's 5 Forces

Commercial Services

There are several commercial services which provide analysis of industry; some cover all industries and some a sub-set of all industries.

Industry & Trade Associations

Entertainment Industry Data

This can be a bit of a different thing to find, so here are some places to get started:

Ten Steps to Industry Research

Adapted from

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 ABI/Inform 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 to find important industry-related Web sites, publications and associations. Search engines and directories such as Google, BingYahoo 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. 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

 Statista is a both good place 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.