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Industry Overview

How to analyze an industry?

  1. Prepare a very short history about this industry; search on google for some interesting facts. E.g. The shipping industry draws its inspiration from Peter the Great, who was most proud of his skills as a shipbuilder.

  2. What are the key departments specific to this industry? E.g. a Healthcare Provider (hospitals, nursing homes etc) would have Patient Administration, Health Maintenance departments, Health Information Exchange.

  3. What are the other departments which are common to all industries. E.g. Information Technology, Financial Management Services, Human Capital Management.

  4. What are some Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each of the above business units? E.g. For Patient Adminstration, some of the KPIs are Admission Time, Physicial Satisfaction Rating etc.

  5. How does the work flow from one department to another? E.g. Health Maintenance department provides services for disease management and health education. If a person falls ill, he comes to the hospital and is checked in by Patient Administration department.

  6. Search for google for some trends (innovations & operational / management trends) and outlook about this industry.

  7. What are some geographic area specific news in this industry – local, statewide, national, international?

  8. What are the top 10 successful businesses in this industry?

  9. Who are the major businesses in the industry?

  10. Where are they located?

  11. How long have they been in business?

  12. What is their market share?

  13. Who are ther target customers? Are they selling to businesses (b2b) or to end-customers (b2c)?

  14. Identify patterns and trends based on customer demographics for this industry – consumer market data based on population/household size, median income, age, sex, ethnicity, familty status, housing status.

  15. Identify buying patterns among customers – Lifestyle information, tastes, preferences, and buying habits?

  16. If the industry mainly sells to other business clients then identify if these clients are large companies or small (in terms of revenue, number of emplpoyees), which industry these end-clients belong to, what are the broad trends in these end-clients industry/companies.

  17. What types of marketing strategies are prevalent within the industry?

  18. Is the industry seasonal?

  19. How has the industry been affected by economic fluctuations?


  • careeronestop – American Job Center Network
    Hot Tip: You can use this resource get ideas for “Occupation Specific Tasks” and “Detailed Work Activities” .

    1. Directly go to Occupation Profile page: Occupation Profile.

    2. Click on the occupation you are interested in and then in the next page you can select your state. For those outside USA, choose any state in USA at random.

    3. Even if you are not in USA, this is still very helpful, since the occupation profiles listed here are universally applicable.

  • Hoovers Industry Directory

    Note that Hoovers provides only minimal information for free. If you know a sales rep, check with him. He may have subscription to Hoovers.

  • Investopedia: Investopedia Industry Handbook

    The Investopedia Handbook has great links to news sites for each industry.

    This handbook examines each industry utilizing Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis:

    1. Threat of New Entrants

    2. Power of Suppliers

    3. Power of Buyers

    4. Availability of Substitutes

    5. Competitive Rivalry.

  • Search for analyst report on that industry.

  • sells private market research reports. Most of the information is not free, but it would still give some ideas about a particular industry.
    Free Business Statistics and Financial Ratios, industry financial benchmark reports, industry profitability risk data, a lot of other useful industry statistics, free financial calculators, financial tools for your web site or financial glossaries.
    You can also create a custom industry Profit & Loss benchmark, start by selecting a company structure and inputting sales information.

    SBDCNet is the official National Information Clearinghouse of the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBDCNet provides small business research services to the entire 1,100+ member SBDC Network of Small Business Development Centers located in all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.
    Better Business Bureau


    North Carolina General Assembly
    Consumer market data
    Demography – population/household size, median income , age, sex, , ethnicity, family status, housing status; Psychographics – Lifestyle information, tastes, preferences, and buying habits.

    ESRI provides free demographic data available by zip code

    nielsen Segmentation: Psychographic information and analysis of zip code areas.

    Securities Exchange Commission (USA).
    For other countries, google for the securities exchange commission website of your country.

    ReferenceUSA (subscription-based service for libraries and government agencies.

    NC Employment Security Commission’s WebSARAS site. Go to the ‘Employers’ link to find information on North Carolina Companies.
    Search for similar sites for your country and state.

    Thomas Register

    Thomas Regional

    Thomas Global Register

    SBTDC’s Internet Resource List. Though this website is for North Carolina companies in USA, this is a free master list of many valuable resources.

    SBTDC’s Internet Resource List

Additional Resources

  • Standard & Poor’s Industry Surveys

  • US Industry & Trade Outlook

  • Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries, Gale Research

  • Encyclopedia of American Industries, Gale Research

  • Trade Associations

    There may be more than one per industry Note: Ask specific questions, e.g., “How large is the wheat market in Texas in terms of dollars?” or “Do you have a list of equipment distributors available for the Eastern Canada?”

  • Local library publications and online databases (NCLive, Dow Jo nes Interactive, InfoTrac).

  • Trade associations and industry online-magazines & journals – Connect through association websites.

  • Lifestyle Market Analyst , SRDC – used for collecting psychographic data (lifestyle information, tastes, preferences, and buying habits)

  • Demographics USA County or Zip Code editions , VNU Publishing

  • Harris InfoSource Business Directory
  • Search company websites for more information on their business.