Guide for MBA Leadership Immersion: Industry/Market

Research Tips

There are three main sources for industry information:

  • Industry reports/profiles through Library databases: relatively comprehensive overview (e.g., size, forecast, main players, current issues). A very new or niche industry may not have a dedicated report. 
  • Industry associations: may provide unique data and analysis not available elsewhere and some information may be free on the website.
  • General media: newspapers, business magazines, trade publications, industry blogs. Use them to be informed of current developments related to an industry. They are especially useful if one cannot find a dedicated industry report. Use library article databases or do a Google search.

Common Challenges & Research Strategies

  • Issue #1: Information availability depends on the specific industry. Not every industry is covered in all databases. There may not be a report on an emerging or niche industry in any database. Reports found via Google may not be available through the Library. 
  • Strategy: Broaden your search (e.g., instead of the "buttons industry", find information on "clothing accessories") or look up information in related/competing industries. Think about your target customers and what else they may like to do then research that market (you will need to make some educated assumptions). Do article/Web search. Look up Form S-1 or 10K of a public company in the same industry.
  • Issue #2: Different databases may call the same industry differently. Even NAICS codes can be different as they are assigned by the research firms that produced the reports/data. 
  • Strategy: Brainstorm synonyms, be flexible in your search, or search by company name (main players) or prominent brand names.
  • Issue #3: Even on the same industry, numbers from different databases may not be the same, due to difference in scope, time period, source, or methodology. 
  • Strategy: Make sure you understand how a particular report defines the industry, and what the numbers mean (e.g., production vs. retail sales). Get information from a few different sources and come up with your own estimate. 
  • Issue #4: Most databases provide industry/market information on the national level rather than local.  
  • Strategy: Make educated assumptions, consult Census industry data by state, do article/Web search for info on local markets. 

Sizing the Market

Market research reports databases like IBISWorld, Mintel, Passport, and Statista may have information on market size. 

However, it's not always easy to find size information on a narrow/niche or emerging markets. When that happens, search for Business Source Premier and Nexis Uni to see if the info is mentioned in articles. Industry associations often provide estimates. Google is great at picking up news, blog posts, and press releases that may mention specific numbers.

You may also need to infer from broader market data and come up with your own estimates, esp. for new products/services that don't exist yet. Below are tutorials tutorials on how to size a market:

Industry & Market Research Reports



Industry/Trade Associations

An industry association is established to advocate for the industry and associated companies. They collect and provide unique data/articles/reports. Sometimes these sources are on their websites for free.

To find the industry association websites:

  • Do a Google search with keywords followed by "association".
  • Industry profiles in library databases may have a section for related associations. For example, in the IBISWorld report, look under "About this Industry", then "Additional Resources".