Business Resources Overview: Where can I find...

Where Can I Find.....




A nice overview of a product/service/industry?

Occasionally I get the question: What is the difference between a sector and industry?

From IBISWorld via an email exchange in Dec 2021: A sector can then be designated as either primary, secondary, tertiary or quaternary.

  • Companies classified in the primary sector primarily extract and harvest resources from the earth, like agriculture, mining or forestry.
  • The secondary sector comprises businesses that are involved in processing, manufacturing and construction.
  • Businesses in the tertiary sector provide services, such as retailers or financial companies.
  • Lastly, the quaternary sector is composed of knowledge-oriented businesses, such as educational institutions.

With each additional digit added to a NAICS code, the scope of the group of businesses narrows, leaving the most similar companies classified into industries with the longest codes. At the four-digit NAICS code level, companies receive the designation of industry group, which is subsequently further broken down into specific industries as additional fifth and sixth digits are added. An industry is the narrowest classification in NAICS and comprises companies operating in the same business sphere of the economy, with the most similar attributes.

There are also many specialized terms used in IBISWorld. One term not defined in the glossary but heavily used in reports is sector. Take a look at the definition of sector from Investopedia.

If you are unfamiliar with NAICS and SIC codes take a look at these sites. They are classification numbers the US government uses to group like industries it has categorized. Not every industry is represented and not every information product uses these groupings.

The SIC system pre-dates NAICS and therefore does not account for industries which emerged after SIC was established. Some databases like Data Axle and Hoovers try to accommodate for this by adding extra digits beyond the 4 digit SIC code. These are not the same as NAICS.

The demographics of people in the United States in general?

Demographics of people in the United States who might buy a specific product/service?

Company Profiles

Competitors for a specific company?

Companies within an industry?

Market share?


The latest news about a company, industry, product or service?

Basic news about the United States economy?

Financials, profit/loss, income statements and balance sheets for companies?

Ratios and financials for industries to help build an income statement and balance sheet?

Pre-Made analyses like Porter's Five Forces, SWOT, TOWS and SMART.

Typically in class projects students are looking for information resources to conduct their own analyses of these types for a graded project. The library information resources contain a number of well-regarded business resources that contain the information you need to do your own original analyses in these frameworks for companies and industries. Towards that goal look at the SWOT section above for examples of SWOTS. Review the other sections above for gathering various information about companies and industries. For a very basic start I recommend starting with IBISWorld and then Mintel and Passport. The two latter products are consumer products only. Then for company info move to Hoovers but also look to see if there is a market report for the broad industry you sit in. Next look at ProQuest for news to see what the company and competitors are up to but also what is happening now in the industry. News will be very piecemeal and not as compact as a market or industry report which shows a more holistic picture.

Background on Doing Business Research

People conduct business research for many reasons including personal interest, school projects, professional needs and sometimes simple curiosity. Most people have no experience doing business research and tend to rely on free web tools and basic searches.

Students at RIT have access to premium, fee-based business research tools with company profiles, market research, industry overviews and financials. Students at RIT also have access to an experienced business librarian who can coach business research skills, strategies and techniques. Learning which resources are appropriate for each project along with learning how to search and make the most of a resource takes practice and time.

Effective business research requires:

  • Knowledge of how business information is produced/gathered
  • Access to premium or fee-based resources in addition to free resources such as company websites
  • Opportunities to practice searching and applying information
  • Access to information professional to coach new researchers

Further Ideas to Help Advance Your Searching

The library subscribes to a few of the premium resources available for market and industry research. You must access them through library links. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Is my product/service for the consumer (b2c) or for a business (b2b)? This will help you know which databases might have info.
  • Is my product/service sold in the U.S. only or in other countries? This will help you know which databases might have info.
  • It is possible your industry/product/service has little or even no coverage in the resources you have access to. Always check the amount of information available to you before choosing your topic so you know what to expect.

Note that different market research resources offered through the library cover different audiences and different geographies. For b2c use Mintel and Passport  and the databases listed for b2b. For b2b use IBISWorldNetAdvantage, Investext and First Research.

Market research is extremely expensive because of the expertise and time that goes into gathering, analyzing and presenting information. We buy access to a lot of research but not everything. You will discover on the web many other resources we cannot afford which is exactly the same situation that happens when running a business.

The library does not at this time subscribe to Statista or IbisWorld. These are two sources that many students find via Google searches due these vendors' excellent use of SEO. Try the products listed on this page instead.

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Please contact your librarian with any questions.

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