Management: Finding Industry Information

Reference Materials


You may need industry information for a number of different purposes, e.g. to develop a marketing strategy for a company or product; to gather competitive intelligence; to evaluate investment opportunities.

Some things you may want to know about an industry:

There are several challenges in finding industry information:

This guide identifies information sources that can help you learn about an industry.  In this guide, we use the term "industry" in its broadest sense, to include the production or supply of all goods and services.

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Reference Materials

Classification Manuals

Industrial classification systems classify economic activities in countries and regions.  There are several different classification systems applied to industries and products, and different information sources will use different classification systems to define industries and compile statistics about it.  In North America, the most common systems are Standard Industrial Classification, which has a US version and a Canadian version, and North American Industrial Classification System which also has some variations for Canadian application.  The classification manuals provide a description of the industry/products for each classification number.  This can be helpful in finding information in various sources that use the classification systems for compiling and publishing industry data.  You can find industry classification manuals in the Library Catalogue by doing a Keyword search for industries and classification in the Subject field.

North American industry classification system: Canada 2002
CA1 CS 12-501 2002

Standard industrial classification.  4th ed., 1980 
CA1 CS 12.501 1980 and online


Industry Overview

There are several commercial services which provide analysis of industry; some cover all industries and some a sub-set of all industries.

This service provides analysis of 33 industries in which Canadian companies compete.  The analysis includes a brief industry recommendation and 7 years of industry ratios.  You can get a list of companies by industry.  You can connect to the service through the Library Catalogue or from the
Indexes/Databases by Title page on the Library web site.

Dun & Bradstreet: Industry norms and key business ratios
Access the most recent 3 years' worth of business ratios for small, medium and large Canadian companies, including corporate, financial and stock information. The data is from Dun and Bradstreet and is organized by SIC code.  You can connect to this database through the Library Catalogue or from the Indexes/Databases by Title page on the library web site.

Mergent Online
Great industry component, with a heavy emphasis on American and international companies.  Coverage includes history, joint ventures, subsidiaries, officers and directors, bond ratings, dividend payments, financial statements, etc. You can connect to the service through the Library Catalogue or from the Indexes/Databases by Title page on the Library web site.

Standard & Poor's netAdvantage
Through this service, we have access to the Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys.  This includes in-depth analysis of 53 industries as well as 140 sub-industry reviews.  The analysis (from a US perspective) includes a discussion of the current environment, an industry profile, and comparative company analysis.  You can connect to the service through the Library Catalogue or from the Indexes/Databases by Title page on the Library web site.

This source provides in-depth analysis of industries globally and by country. Once you have selected an industry, you can "see related company profiles".  You can connect to the service through the Library Catalogue or from the Indexes/Databases by Title page on the Library web site.

Dun & Bradstreet/Gale Group Industry Handbook 5 vol.  Reference Collection: HF 5035 D86 2000
Each volume covers  different industries: v. 1: Chemicals; Pharmaceuticals; v. 2: Computers & software: Broadcasting & telecommunications; v. 3: Construction; Agriculture; v. 4: Entertainment; Hospitality; v. 5: Insurance; Health & medical services.  For each industry there is an industry overview, industry statistics, financial norms and ratios, company directory with rankings, a listing of trade associations and consultants, and a directory of trade information sources.

Plunkett's industry almanacs
Each publication covers a different industry and, for that industry, includes major trends and technologies, industry statistics, lists of associations and other contacts within the industry, and profiles of the major companies in the industry.  You can find the Plunkett's industry almanacs that are in the Library collection by doing a title search in the Library Catalogue for Plunkett's.  The following are examples of the almanacs currently in the Library collection.

Plunkett's biotech & genetics industry almanac, 2003-2004. 
Reference Collection: HD 9999 B44 P58 2003

Plunkett's consulting industry almanac.  2003 
Reference Collection: HD 69 C6 P58 2003

Plunkett's e-commerce & Internet business almanac, 2003-2004.
HF 5548.32 P59 2003

Snapshots -- North America
Provides reports on a broad range of industries and regions in North America including market data. You can connect to the service through the Library Catalogue or from the Indexes/Databases by Title page on the Library web site.

There are also government sources for industry information.

Statistics Canada. Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises - Ratios for Canadian Industries.

Statistics Canada. Financial and Taxation Statistics for Enterprises - Ratios for Canadian Industries.

Industry Canada.  Business information by sector. 
A government source, this site provides a range of information for each industrial sector, including industry definition and trend analysis, environmental and technological issues, industry and trade statistics.

Industry Canada.  Canadian industry statistics.  
This government source provides data and analysis of sectors of the Canadian economy, including data on number of establishments, production and costs, employment, salary and wages.  

Industry and trade associations provide information about industries and can be sources of information about important trends. Most such associations have websites with publicly available information, although some parts of the websites may be limited to members only. You can use a directory to identify associations in your industry; listings include website addresses as well as titles of other publications that the association produces.

Associations Canada
Reference Collection: HS 17 D57 v. 31 2010

Encyclopedia of Associations
Reference Collection: HS 17 G334 2008

Associations Unlimited (online database)

Industry Statistics

In addition to the statistics included in the sources noted above under Industry Overview, there are several services that provide industry data without additional analysis.  These are compiled from different sources; be sure to consider the source of data when you are using the data and ratios included in these publications.

Almanac of business and industrial financial ratios.  2008 ed.
Reference Collection: HF 5681 R25 A45 2007

Annual statement studies: financial ratio benchmarks.  2002-2003.
Reference Collection: HF 5681 B2 R6 2002/03

Statistics Canada. Financial performance indicators for Canadian business.  1997 - current  

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You can find books and government documents that provide information on particular industries by searching the Library catalogue by industry name.  Enter the name of your industry as a subject heading.  If this does not retrieve any records, enter the name of your industry as a keyword.

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The business press is a good source of industry information, especially about demographics and other environmental factors affecting the industry and about technology and trends in the industry. The Library subscribes to a number of journal indexes which index business publications, not limited to those listed below; see the Databases by Subject page on the library web site for more.

CBCA Complete
This source indexes the articles in over 1600 Canadian magazines, journals, newsletters, corporate reports and newspapers.  You can limit your search using NAICS codes to zero in on articles about your industry.  It includes links to the full-text of many of the articles indexed.

Canadian Newsstand
Provides full-text access to approximately 200 Canadian news sources. The Globe and Mail is indexed from 1977 to the present.

This source indexes articles in nearly 3000 (over 2000 full-text) worldwide business periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal. You can limit your search to a specific NAICS code. 

Business Source Complete
This periodical index allows you to search by product, by company, by NAICS code and description, as well as by subject heading and keyword.

LexisNexis Academic
Access over 6,000 full-text news, business, and legal publications, including deep backfiles and up-to-the-minute stories in national and regional newspapers, wire services, international news, and non-English language sources. Sources include business news journals, company financial information, SEC filings and reports, and industry and market news. Legal information includes U.S. Federal and state case law, codes, regulations, legal news, law reviews, and Shepard's Citations for all U.S. Supreme Court cases back to 1789.

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Try looking for professional organizations related to the industry you are researching; many of them have great information. As well, some of the sites listed below may be of help:

Biz/ed - Financial Ratio Analysis

This site contains resources and worksheets to help you with ratio analysis.

Deutsche Bank Research

One of the world's leading think tanks for trends in business, society and the financial markets. Contains some free publications on macro-trends and industries. Searchable by topic, region, etc.

Industry Information Resources

Lists many sources of industry information, including both free and subscription sources; worth wading through the clutter. Information and analysis for over 400 industries, listed by industry category and standard industrial classification code.

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If you have difficulty finding or using the information you require:

Business FAQs

Developed by business librarians at American universities, this site allows you to search several academic business libraries' sites of frequently asked business reference questions. While some sites may refer you to subscription databases (check to see if we subscribe at the U of L to gain access), lots of general information and links to free sites as well.

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 Maintained by
 Content Revised: May 27, 2011
 Content Created: October 25, 2004

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