Market & Industry Research Strategies
Reports & What To Do Next
Start with Reports
Reports provide written overviews, helpful statistics, and give you a sense of where the analyst thinks the industry or market is headed. New, niche, and disruptive industries are often harder to find represented in existing reports.
Then, Explore the Many Other Options
This guide has suggestions for when you can't find a report or you want more information. See also industry-specific guides.
Not sure where to start? The following resources aggregate statistics and information from many sources on a wide range of industries and topics. Use these as a starting point to find additional sources to investigate further.
More Industry Analysis, Insights, Statistics, & Data
There are so many groups, beyond industry and market report providers, who provide insight, data, and statistics about industries.
Industry and trade association websites often contain industry news and information, although some data may be available to members only. Look for sections called: "news," "research," "resources," "library," or "data."
Industry Analyst Reports
Analyst reports are written by Wall Street analysts and typically focus on factors that would influence a public companies performance. Analyst reports can be focused on companies, industries, or regions.
Industry News & Publications
Sometimes, the only information available are from news and trade outlets (i.e. AdAge, Chronicle of Higher Education, Auto News Daily, etc.). You can get some access through search engines, but for more advanced searching and more coverage try the following.
You can use procurement reports as a backdoor way to gain insights into a market and are particularly helpful for B2B markets.
Government Data & Reports
The US government creates a lot of data and reports that are available online, but can sometimes be hard to find.
For example, if you're looking for market information on the organic whole chicken (broilers) market the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has production, sales, and inventory data for the past 20 years, the USDA Economic Research Service provides market outlook for poultry and eggs, and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service provides news briefs on the organic poultry market.
Here are some places to start if you're not sure what agency would have information:
- Google your topic + location (if necessary) + site:.gov (or .mil, if US focused) + filetype:pdf. Example: [organic broiler industry site:.gov filetype:pdf]
Non-US Government Data
For non-US market and industry data and analysis, you can try searching government websites for the countries in question (sometimes you will need to be able to read the nation's language, as not all websites will have an English version).
You can search via Google limiting to country codes, or do a general Google search [country + industry + data]
Regulators can be government agencies (like the FDA for pharmaceuticals in the US) or professional groups that control professional standards and licenses. Many of these organizations collect and make available all sorts of data and information. If you can't find it on their website contact them to see if they have additional information.
NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
NGOs, like the United Nations (UN) or World Bank also collect and distribute lots of reports, analysis, news, and data on markets and industries around the world. You can find a lot through searching online along with the organization's name. Particularly helpful organizations to look at are:
Study Existing Companies
Research key players or build your own list that includes more than just those with the largest market share.
Established & Public Companies
Consumer Markets (B2C)
There are many ways to learn more about your target consumers. Most industry and market reports will include sections about the consumers, but here are some more suggestions.
If you're researching the baby stroller market, you might want to know how many babies are born each year or income brackets of new parents.
Using the baby stroller market example, you may want to know what types of features parents look for when choosing baby products, what brands have the best market share, or what price point they like.
Business Markets (B2B)
It can be a bit trickier to find information on the consumer/purchaser side of B2B industries and markets. Many of the reports listed elsewhere on this page will have helpful information, especially if you focus on those created for professionals (e.g. procurement reports, Gartner reports are written for IT professionals, and many industry associations create information for their members who are often professionals in that industry).
Use Your Network
Often, people involved in your target industry are some of the best sources of information. This is especially true in new, niche, and disruptive industries.
Who do you know who you can contact? Who does your network know who they could connect you with?
Use Stand-in or Proxy Data
If you cannot get information on your target company or industry, you can use "stand in" or "proxy" that is similar, and extrapolate from that. Some options:
- If you're researching a private company, are there similar public firms you can use to get a sense of relevant issues or that industry's expected financial ratios?
- For niche industries, are there broader ones you can use? For example, if you're researching AI in workplace training, try using information about traditional workplace training, AI, or education. They might not be exactly what you're after, but many of the influencing factors in these industries will be the same (i.e. AI advancements, research on learning, etc.)
Do Primary Research
Primary research involves collecting your own data, such as through surveys or obtaining an organization's operational data. This is different from secondary research (which is broadly any research you are using that was generated by others, and what you will find in libraries) in that it is much more specific, but also typically more time-intensive and costly.
You can learn how to conduct primary research with the following:
Ask Us for Recommendations
We're here to help. If you Ask Us and provide detailed information about what you're searching for, what you may have already tried, etc., we will try and recommend other approaches or point you to sources we know about.
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