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How to Research Your Industry: Home

Types of Industry Research

Primary Research

  • Talking to business owners or other industry professionals
  • Questionnaires or online surveys
  • Observing other businesses and their customers
  • Competitors’ websites and social media
  • Attending Trade Shows and other Industry events
  • Work or volunteer experience in the industry

Secondary Research Resources

  • Government Data: e.g. U.S. Census
  • Library Databases
  • Articles
  • Industry Associations and Industry Reports

Virtual Reference

Do you need one-on-one assistance researching your business from one of the Business & Career Center librarians? Check out our Virtual Reference Options! You can Chat with a Librarian instantly or Email with a Librarian for more in depth help with your research!

What is an industry?

In business, the term industry is used frequently, and it is important to understand what this term means when doing market research for your business. An industry is a broad grouping of businesses that operate in roughly the same product or service category. For example, fast food restaurants, bars, full service restaurants, food trucks, and hotels that serve food are all "sectors" of the overall restaurant industry. Even though all of these businesses are slightly different, they are competing with one another for prepared food expenditures, and they share common concerns, such as the changes in the price of produce or menu trends. The picture below is a snapshot of the projection of the Secondhand Market in the next 5 years.

2020 Resale Report, ThredUp!

What will researching my industry do for my business?

  1. Understanding your industry can help you identify the trends affect your industry sector or your industry as a whole. This will allow you to adjust your business strategy to account for changes in regulation, technology, or consumer preferences.

  2. Once you identify your industry and your industry sector, you will be able to look at financial benchmarks based on the other companies in your industry or industry sector. This can help you determine whether your expenditures, profit, and your balance sheet or on par with your competitors. 
  3. Knowing your industry can help you network with other professionals in your industry and find all of the suppliers and service providers that your business may need by joining your industry associations or going to relevant trade shows.