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Industry Research: Home

Business guide to industry research

USC Industry Information Databases

Financial Databases at USC

This is a list of the key business databases at USC.  Another list with the WRDS datasets broken out can be found here.

Gale Directory Library

To locate professional associations and other types of organizations, you can also search the Gale Directory Library available through the USC Libraries E-Resources.  This database contains the Encyclopedia of Associations (under "Organizations") as well as other reference works.

Industry Research Tips

To understand a company and its competitors, you need to understand the industry of which it is a part, even if you are looking for information about a niche industry. 

Finding information about an industry includes the following steps:

  • Get an overview of the industry (market research, industry summaries)
  • Look for articles on trends and see if you can find forecasts
  • Gather statistics from government agencies and trade associations
  • Contact trade associations for additional information about an industry

Potential problems:

  • Each information tool uses its own industry groupings and covers different industries.  Data from one source may not match another resource, both in terms of data and definition of an industry. 
  • Small industries are often reported as part of larger industries in government data and other information sources.  Look for targeted market research to address these markets
  • Quality, availability, and cost of association information varies widely.  Some of it is only available to members, and some data can be free.
  • Emerging industries can be difficult to research.  Data may not be available and trends may not have been established. 

Business Library Industry Reference Books

Many resources use the Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes that were developed to track data on American industries.  The codes were updated with a new system called NAICS: North American Industry Classification System, which includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  However, many resources continue to use SIC codes as well. Public websites for SIC and/or NAICS codes are listed below.

USC Articles Databases

Financial Norms & Ratios

The following databases have financial norms and ratios by industry.  Links to the databases can be found under USC Industry Information or Financial Information Databases in the left hand column

  • eStatement Studies: Search by NAICS code or keyword search the name of an industry
  • Factiva:  Search 'Companies/Markets' for a Company profile which will contain a "Ratio Comparison" report
  • Orbis:  Search different ratio variables by industry
  • IBISWorld:  Many reports for major industries contain ratio comparisons for small, medium and large companies, as well as the industry as a whole, in the 'Industry Financial Ratios' section at the end
  • First Research Industry Profiles:  These quarterly reports cover many U.S. industries and include ratios for small, medium and large companies, as well as industry averages.  These reports are indexed in ProQuest (Browse / Industry & Market Research) and Thomson One.
  • Capital IQ (this is only accessible on dedicated computers in the Business Library):  Search 'Markets' and select a broad industry descriptor; on the industry's profile page, look for 'Key Stats & Ratios'

See the Business Library Industry Reference Books below for Reference materials

Government Industry Information including NAICS & SIC Codes

Public Links

Find an Association

Professional associations can be very helpful in learning more about an industry or profession.  Although full access is often reserved for paid members, associations often provide information to the public in the form of summary reports and press releases.  Examples of professional associations include Advertising Professionals of Los Angeles, the American Society of Cinematographers, the American Medical Association and the California Solar Energy Industries Association to name just a few.

Follow the steps below to locate a professional association. 

 1.  Go to the Business Insights Global database

2.  Select the "Advanced Search" option

3.  Under "Keyword", select one of the various "Associations" options (Description works best)

4.  Try searching for a word that is found in the industry description or in the name of the association.  Also, you may wish to specify "USA" in the "Country" field or you will be searching for international associations as well.  Try different combinations of search terms and keywords to find the association you need (e.g.: beverage, drink, coffee, wine). 


Conferences and Conventions

These public sites can help find professional conferences and conventions for a wide range of industries: