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Start with the Government
I usually recommend when doing industry research that you start by finding out what classification number the U.S. Government has assigned to that industry. They collect a lot of data about industries and make it available for free to everyone.
Search for County or State data:
- North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)
This is the classification system used by the U.S. Government. Use the Search box for the 2017 NAICS on the left to enter in a keyword or two about your industry to find out how they classify it. You will get anywhere from a two-digit (very general) to a six-digit (very specific) classification number. Write this number down. You can use it to search other government sites and business databases to find info on your industry!
- Business and Economic Data from data.census.gov
The U.S. government collects a lot of data about businesses and the U.S. economy. They are well known for their in-depth Economic Census (done every 5 years in years that end in a 2 or a 7). The Census tries to count all the businesses in the U.S. and gather data about them so we get a sense of how our economy changes. It includes info such as total revenues for an industry, employment, geographic distribution of companies in an industry, etc. It can take a long time for all the data to get processed and posted on the website. In the meantime, the Census does smaller Annual Surveys that try to fill in some gaps.
Here's how to locate data:
Go to data.census.gov
Click on "Advanced Search"
Click on "Codes" and select "Industry Codes (NAICS).
Using the NAICS Code you found earlier, start drilling down with the first two digits of the NAICS Codes until you find the more specific code for your industry. (note: This search will give you nationwide results unless you add on a geographic area to your search.)
You can click on Geography and select either County or State to see how many businesses are already in a specified geographic location. If choosing county, put a check in the box beside the counties you want to research. (make sure that it moves the name of the county to the left-hand column under "Selected Filters." (Note: smaller locations may not have data available for their area)
Click the "Search" box in the bottom right corner.
Tables containing the requested data will appear in the main search area. These tables may be from Annual Surveys done by the Census Bureau or they may be from the Economic Census done every 5 years.
Note that several of the columns report data in $1,000 of dollars, so you'll need to add 3 zeroes to the end of the number to get the actual dollar amount.
Statista This link opens in a new window
Integrates data on over 80,000 topics from over 18.000 sources onto a single professional platform. Categorized into 21 market sectors, it provides direct access to quantitative data on media, business, finance, politics, and a wide variety of other areas of interest or markets.
In addition to the name of the industry (ex: hotel OR hospitality OR lodging), other terms that I like to use in searches for industry information include:
- Statistics OR Data
- Specific areas of the business that I want to find out about (marketing, business-to-business OR B2B, data security, etc.)
In recommended order, here are the databases available to assist you with industry research:
IBISWorld This link opens in a new window
Collection of industry market research and industry risk rankings
First Research This link opens in a new window
Industry and geographic profiles from Mergent and First Research.
Gale Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Collection This link opens in a new window
Periodical collection supported hospitality, tourism, and leisure topics. Provided by Alabama Virtual Library.
Business Insights: Essentials This link opens in a new window
Formerly Business and Company Resource Center, this database is a fully integrated resource bringing together company profiles, brand information, rankings, investment reports, company histories, chronologies and periodicals. Search this database to find detailed company and industry news and information.
Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage This link opens in a new window
Business Source Complete This link opens in a new window
Includes trade journals, country economic reports, industry reports and market research reports. Full-text.
Trade or industry associations are a great source for information on an industry. Sometimes they have free information available. Other times it is restricted to members of that organization.
Business Insights: Essentials
To search for trade associations, go to the Advanced Search page. Instead of Keyword search, select Association from the pull-down menu. Search by Association Name, Description, NAICS, SIC, State or Country.
Search for Industry Association Information in Articles
Search for the name of the industry in business articles. Sometimes you will find statistics or research quoted in the articles that would normally only be available to members who pay membership fees to access.
NexisUni This link opens in a new window
Formerly LexisNexis Academic. Database of news, business and legal research. For educational activities only.