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Industry Research

Overview of the Industry

These are questions and sources which will start you on your research. They may provide you with an overview of the industry and specific sources to consult.

You might want to use the following methodology to determine your research strategy.

Brainstorm if possible with one or more partners

Try this exercise in which you determine possible keywords or subject terms to search:

  1. Think of keywords or subject headings. Be sure to think of synonyms for your terms. Learn the industry jargon.
  2. Try to group the questions into categories. Example: marketing, new products, legal/regulatory, market share, 
  3. What types of resources might help in your search? statistical, databases for articles, industry publications, governmental, trade associations
  4. Match the questions to types of sources >then identify specific sources which might be useful.
  5. Keep track of what you have looked at, new questions which might have come up and then re-group and fill in the blanks
  6. If working as a team, assign tasks and keep a timeline for what has been completed and what still needs to be done.
  7. Document time, money and sources used.
  8. What questions are still unanswered?


Size of the Industry

This is often difficult to determine as figures from different sources may vary widely. Some suggested sources are as follows:



Database Searches in the following may be helpful.

News, Trends and Forecasts

  1. Where is the industry now?
  2. Where might it be in 3-6 months vs 1-5 years?
  3. Is the industry in a growth or retreat mode?

Economic Indicators

  1. What economic indicators might influence a particular industry either positively or negatively? Labor, interest rates, etc.
  2. Is the industry cyclical or non-cyclical? Does it produce durable or non-durable goods?
  3. Price of commodities/raw materials used in production. How much do they effect production and price?

Domestic vs International Markets

Some questions to research:

  1. Is the industry strong or weak domestically vs overseas competition?
  2. How is it effected by tariffs?
  3. Does the industry make most of its sales/profit domestically or overseas? What particular geographic regions of the world?

Market Share

Who are the dominant players? This is often found in industry overviews and articles. When searching databases use the industry name or SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) or North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes (if the database allows) and terms such as: market share, rank, ranking, top or leaders.

Financial Information

Total Size/Sales of the Industry:

Use the databases and resources such as the S&P Industry Surveys in the NetAdvantage database  and Statista recommended above. 

Some things to consider:

  1. Smaller industries may be difficult to find information on.
  2. Industry Association searches may be useful in that these associations often compile statistics and publications for their members. They may not be available for free to non-members however.
  3. Industry Trade Publications-these often publish Year end, State of the Industry or similar worded issues which may be available.

Innovations/New Products/Technology

Use similar sources and strategies that you used in searches on market share. Use terms such as: new product(s), service introduction, product introduction.

Wire Services and news releases by companies themselves are often the first place where new products are announced.

Legal & Regulatory Issues

What sort of laws or regulations might effect the particular industry that you are researching? You should look at not just current laws/regulations but also pending or future regulations/court cases.

Industry Associations, Publications, Trade Shows and News

Internet Search for Organizations and Their Publications

Search as in the example below which uses the Advanced Search feature found in Google.

Trade Shows

Trade Shows can be useful in determining new products and current state of the industry. Many but not all are open to the public. Use a similar search as the one above on organizations to find shows of interest.




Industry News

Search databases mentioned previously. 



Jim Bondra

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Jim Bondra
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