MKTG 464 Marketing Strategy and Management: Company

Places to Start Research

  1. Company Website: company history, mission/vision/value statements (as available),10-K (for public companies) and annual reports (if available), other policy type documents (e.g., CSR/sustainability reports), media/news/press releases.
  2. Company Profiles in library databases: history, news, financial performance (if public), competitors, etc. 
  3. Private Companies: information on public companies is much more readily available than info on private companies or subsidiaries
  4. Nonprofits: check out the Nonprofit Sector research guide

Company Profiles



Finding 10-Ks and 20-Fs

Different ways to search for company filings

  • Company's website (usually under Investors or Investor Relations); or google [company name] 10k
  • EDGAR search options: Filings search tool of the SEC. 

** 20-F: annual SEC filings by certain foreign corporations traded on US exchanges.

SWOT Analysis in Library Databases

Library databases below may have a readily available SWOT report on select companies. Not all companies have a such a report, and even when there are SWOT reports, these are other people's opinions that you can consult and cite. You should, however, always create your own analysis.

Creating Your Own SWOT Analysis

Create your own SWOT analysis by collecting information from multiple sources, such as company profiles, industry & market information, and news. If you are researching on a public company, take a look at its Annual Report (or 10-K), especially the section "Risk Factors." 

Here are some other tips on doing your own SWOT analysis (remember S&W are internal, while O&T are external)

Explore the company website

  • What kind of service/product do they provide?
  • What kind of customer needs are they meeting? 
  • What's their customer value proposition?

Interview the company, if possible. State that you are a student researching on the company for academic work, and that you will agree to sign any non-disclosure agreement. Call and ask them nicely. You might be surprised! * Most of the "internal information" (e.g., HR practices) of small private firms is highly unlikely to be available in secondary sources; in this case, talking with the company is the only way.

Read reviews, if available. Although customer reviews can be biased and unreliable, consistently positive or negative reviews should be taken into account. Consumers often find weaknesses that the company may not be aware of. However, be realistic -- you can't be all things to all people. Always keep your target market in mind.

Take a look at the competitors:

  • If your competitors are large/public companies, chances are there are readily available SWOT reports on them. Go through their SWOT to compare your company with them. The opportunities and threats are external factors that will have an impact on all companies, including yours, in the same industry.
  • Consider the following:
    • What kind of service/product do the competitors provide?
    • What are your company's competitive advantages? For example, unique product/service, location, size, customer service, price, etc..? How does your company differentiate itself from others (i.e., what's its niche)?

Research the industry: 

  • The library database IBISWorld has a SWOT analysis on the industry.
  • Current industry landscape
  • Industry forecast and emerging trends

Do an environmental scanwhat environmental factors may have an impact on the market your company's in? Any emerging trends? Disruptive forces? What are the opportunities and threats? Feel free to incorporate your personal observations and experiences.