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Get Started with Industry Research

What is industry research?

Industry research, also called an industry analysis, reviews an industry's trends, growth, and competitors. Companies conduct industry research to help them make competitive decisions about products and services.

Before you start: Things to consider

  • Information availability. The library's databases don't cover every industry. There may be limited information if it's a niche market or an emerging industry. We recommend broadening your search if you're not finding information on your market (e.g., change your search terms from glucose monitors to medical devices). Look for a 10-K of a company in the same industry to find similar or broader markets. (A 10-K is an annual report required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.)
  • Get creative. Small industries, industries dominated by big public companies, or industries with many private companies may be challenging to research. Look to the public companies' SEC documents and other company reports to reveal industry trends and analysis.
  • Industry names. Industry names can vary by database. Use synonyms in your search, as well as searching by company or brand names. Or better yet, use an industry classification number (NAICS or SIC code) to ensure your industry research is consistent.
  • Watch the numbers. Considering different sources covering the same industry, be aware of how each source calculates its numbers. Note the time, scope, source, and methodology.

Where to Start

Profiles & Market Research

These guides are often the best place to start. They can help you find information on most major industries.

News Articles

News can help you identify trends or recent changes in an industry that may not be reflected in an industry profile.

Government Websites

Most databases provide industry and market information on a national level, not at a local level. You can use government websites to find out which industries dominate specific geographic areas, then use ABI/INFORM to look for news articles about that industry in local news publications.

Statistics & Ratios

Statistics and ratios can help you understand industry trends and can provide benchmarking data that you can use to measure a company's performance.

Company Reports

Small or new industries, industries dominated by big public companies with multiple lines of business, or industries with many private companies may be challenging to research. By reviewing a few company reports in an industry, you can begin to put together an overall picture.

Company Websites

Company websites may provide insights about their industry. You can often find industry insights on the About pages of company websites.