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Business Research

Introduction to Business Resources

Exports by Industry

Export.gov: Market Research

  • Resources include the Country Commercial Guides (free), and "more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by our specialists working in overseas posts." The latter had also been freely available, but now users are required to register and either be a researcher or associated with a U.S.company.

Key Terms

NAICS Code - The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses six-digit codes to identify an industry. The NAICS system is gradually replacing the SIC system. Many resources use these codes to identify a company’s activities, index companies by activity, and to define industry data and information. For more information on the history and structure of the NAICS, as well as to search for codes, visit the NAICS Association website at http://www.naics.com/ and the U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.

SIC Code - Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes are four-digit codes used to identify an industry. Many resources use these codes to identify a company’s activities, index companies by activity, and to define industry data and information. For information on the history of the SIC codes and information about its replacement, the NAICS, visit the NAICS Association website at http://www.naics.com/info.htm. An excellent website for a list of SIC codes and to search for a code is the OSHA site from the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.osha.gov/cgi-bin/sic/sicser5.

-From BRASS Business Guide - COMPANY AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH


An industry classification system is a means of categorizing industries so that similar industries are grouped together and narrower industries appear within broader categories. Most company databases offer industry screening by classification system as well as by key words in the business description. Screening in a company database by use of an industrial classification system such as NAICS or SIC (see below can result in more comprehensive results than key word searching as many descriptions are incomplete or may be absent from a database.

On the other hand industry classification systems do not keep up with industry trends (Ex: wearables, big data) so new buzz words are not captured. For this reason a combination of approaches usually yields the best results

The resources listed below can be helpful in identifying the code to use for a company search by industry.

  • SIC Standard Industrial Classification System
  • NACE Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community
  • NAICS North American Industry Classification System
  • National Classifications a table of classifications by country provided by the United Nations (scroll to the bottom to search by country or classification)

-From Harvard Business School's FAQ guide

ABI/Inform Industry Reports

First Research Industry Profiles in ABI/Inform are a good place to start researching U.S. industries. These reports are high-level overviews of U.S. industries. Click on the correct access link above and follow these instructions to find First Research Industry Profiles.

  • Select “Publications” (to the right of “Basic Search”)

ABI/Inform menu

  • Search for “First Research Industry Profiles” and select
  • In the “Search within this Publication” field, enter in key words for your industry and search
  • This will produce a list of First Research Industry Reports on your industry.  To get more specific add keywords (ie “Restaurant” and “fast food”).

You can sort your results by date or relevance.

Business Monitor International Industry Reports, also in ABI/Inform, are have reports for industries in countries that are not the U.S.

  • Select "Browse" (to the right of "Basic Search")

ABI/Inform menu browse

  • Look under first heading "Industry and Market Research"
  • Select "Business Monitor International (BMI) Industry Reports"

WATCH: Finding Industry Ratios & Averages using Mergent Online

-a video tutorial by Chad Boeninger, Business Librarian at Ohio University Libraries

Industry Reports in Statista