Industry research

Who needs to research an industry:

  • Entrepreneurs studying the industry they are entering.
  • Small business owners who are writing their business plan.
  • Job/career seekers who are preparing for a job interview or exploring career options.
  • Investors exploring stock purchases.
  • Marketers, product developers, and small business owners looking for new markets to enter.

1) Begin your research by identifying the NAICS or industry code that represents the product or service you are interested in.

You will find much industry information aggregated by NAICS codes. NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System and was designed by the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican governments to keep track of economic activity. The codes represent the manufacture, wholesale and retail of products as well as services provided. Consequently, every business can be identified by at least one and often several NAICS codes.

2) You will want to identify the businesses who are already engaged in this industry.

To identify the large companies, use Business Insights: Global (Library card is required to access this resource from outside the Library.) The search results will be a list of larger companies worldwide, ranked by sales.

You might be more interested in the smaller companies and/or the local companies in your industry. To find these companies use the A to Z database. (Library card is required to access this resource from outside the Library.)

3) What is impacting your industry now: Technology, new products, the economy, demographic changes, regulations, new competition, change in lifestyles? You can read about your industry by using:

  • Business Source Complete This database provides the full text of articles that are taken from trade journals (magazines written for those in a specific industry), business magazines, academic journals, and newspapers. You can also find company profiles, market research reports, product reviews and SWOT analyses. (Library card is required to access this database from outside the Library).
  • Business Insights: Global You will find in this database the full text of articles from trade journals, magazines and newspapers. (Library card is required to access this database from outside the Library).
  • Kansas City Business Journal is an excellent source of information regarding local businesses and industries. You can search the Business Journal online going back to 1996. If the full text of the article is not available online, the Library has copies of all of the issues.
  • Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage There are 55 lengthy and detailed industry reviews in the Industry Survey section of the database. Select the one you are interested in on the drop down menu. (Library card is required to access this database from outside the Library).
  • The website Bizminer has many excellent US industry market reports, but they are not free. Each reports costs around $100.

4) Statistical sources can give you another look at your industry.

  • County Business Patterns and Zip Code Business Patterns are prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau. Using a NAICS code, you will find the number of establishments, number of people employed and the annual payroll figure for specific industries.
  • The above-mentioned reports do not include those businesses that are one-person operations. To get data on businesses that have no paid staff use Nonemployer Statistics prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Economic Census Every five years the U.S. Census Bureau takes a count. The Economic Census can be used to:
    • Evaluate industry growth.
    • Identify new markets.
    • Assist entrepreneurs in justifying the need for their business.

5) Trade associations can provide a wealth of information to you. Because their members are all active in the industry and share information, they have a very good handle on what is happening in their particular field. There are trade associations for just about any line of work. To find the one(s) that represent your industry use Encyclopedia of Associations.

For additional information, contact an H&R Block Business & Career Center librarian by phone, 816.701.3717, or by e-mail, bcc@kclibrary.org.