Because there are many ways to classify and describe an industry and many places data and information about an industry can be found, this type of business research is especially tough. Here are a few tips adapted from Celia Ross's Making Sense of Business Reference (2020).
Define your industry and brainstorm keywords that describe it.
Note: While the terms industry and market are often used interchangeably, industry usually refers to the key companies that are providing the goods/products/services to consumers. The market usually refers to the range of consumers. Both approaches make sense when conducting industry analysis!
Ask yourself, "Who cares?" to point you toward less obvious but relevant industry and consumer groups that may have additional information. Consider contacting an expert directly if you are feeling stuck.
Diversify your dig for information. Search different kinds of library databases that contain different types of content (e.g., academic/trade journal, popular magazine, and newspaper articles as well as reports and statistics) and the Internet. Dig for mentions of competitors or other industry players, professional organizations and trade associations, or anything else that might provide some clues. Both SWOT and PESTLE, or PEST, analyses can be helpful here.
Keep track of clues as you go.
Industry codes, such as those assigned by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), allow researchers and professionals alike to classify and measure industry activity.
Knowing the code for an industry will help you find reports, articles, and other information on it. Many business and finance databases will allow users to enter industry codes as keywords. However, even though they are standardized, resources may assign codes inconsistently. Additionally, companies often have multiple codes due to their various business segments. Be flexible but critical when using codes to search, and always check multiple sources.
Note: Usually, there is not a perfect or obvious industry code.
These annual journals, which use both NAICS and SIC codes, are available in print on the first floor of the Addlestone Library.
Risk Management Association (RMA) industry reports and statement studies are also available online via library databases.
The following Richard K. Miller & Associates Market Research Handbooks (and older editions of them) are available online. The links below will open the library catalog records for each title, which include bibliographic information needed for citation. To view the full text, click the link under View Online.
Pandemic Series (published 2020):