Market Research

Helping Businesses Thrive and Grow

Online Resources

  • Step-by-Step Process for Market Research – An organized procedure for researching an industry or specific company.
  • U.S. Census Bureau – Employment, income, and demographic data that is helpful for doing market research and identifying characteristics of the industry.
  • Census Data on Idaho – A collection of data from the U.S. Census Bureau that provides information on counties and communities in Idaho.
  • Fedstats – Online access to the full range of statistical information produced by the federal Government.
  • – Knowledge Source for marketing.


General Business Information:

American City Business Journals – Business related news for many US cities.  Search for articles on industry trends, compare similar businesses in other cities, and check your competition.

American Demographics Magazine – Good for discovering trends, obtaining marketing ideas, and identifying markets for businesses that market to consumers.

Edward Lowe Foundation – The Ed Lowe Foundation maintains a searchable database of articles, book chapters, and SBA publications dealing with a wide variety of small business issues.

EntreWorld (Kauffman Center) – The Kauffman Foundation supports entrepreneurial education.  Their website provides a good source for training materials.

Forbes – Online version of Forbes magazine.

Inc Magazine – Search for general business trends at this popular business magazine’s website.

NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) – The new system that will replace the SIC within the next few years.  NAICS was created in order to compare and track the economies in Canada, Mexico and the United States.  The 1997 US Economic Census is reported by NAICS.  (See also: SIC.)

SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) – All establishments are assigned a classification by the Federal Government for statistical and other reporting purposes based upon their primary business function.  Most private and public statistics are reported at the SIC level.  SICs can be located at:  See also: NAICS.


Financial Information:

Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios (Prentice Hall) – Provides ratios and industry norms in actual dollar figures derived from IRS data.  Each industry includes performance indicators such as total assets, cost of operations, wages, asset turnover, and profit margins.

Financial Studies of the Small Business (Financial Research Associates)- Similar to RMA but surveys small and micro-businesses only.  Organized by industry.

Market Share Reporter (Gale Research) – Organized by SIC categories (industry groups). Reports percentage of market held by leading companies in each category covered.  Usually gives total market size for each category.

Robert Morris Associates (RMA) Annual Statement Studies – On disk or in print. Contains ratios derived from statements of commercial bank borrowers and prospects.  Organized by 4 digit SIC code, most editions contain only national averages.

Standard & Poor’s Industry Surveys – Industry surveys in each of 52 topics.  Each topic contains trends comparative company analysis and forecasts.  Each survey is published independent of the other topics.

US Industry & Trade Outlook (McGraw-Hill/US Dept. of Commerce) – Hundreds of tables and charts, industry reviews, trends and forecasts divided by 50 major industry groups.  Each group essay may contain more specific information about products and services in that category.


Demographic Information:

After identifying your target market you will want to do research to determine their demographics and Psychographics.

1) Demographics or “who they are” (gender, age, income bracket, education, household size)
2) Psychographics or “why they buy” ( needs, problems, values, attitudes, lifestyles).

American Factfinder (US Census) – Users can access statistical data about their geographic area.  Includes demographic and economic statistics.

County Business Patterns (US Census) Employment and establishment data for U.S. counties.

FedStats – The gateway to statistics from Federal Agencies.

Acorn Lifestyle Lookup – See 2000 demographic estimates and lifestyle data for a zip code of your choice.  NOTE:  This is NOT official Census data!

Consumer Expenditure Survey (BLS) – Provides average expenditure data for the nation, regions, and selected cities.

The Sourcebook of ZIP Code Demographics (CACI) – Demographic information by zip code.  Includes population, race, income, and expenditure information for each ZIP code in the US.



American Wholesaler and Distributor Directory (Gale Research) Provides listings of wholesalers and distributors sorted by product category and by state.

Catalog of Catalogs (Woodbine House) – Billed as “ The Complete Mail-Order Directory” this resource contains the descriptions and contact information to 14,000 catalogs.  It is indexed by subject and by company name.

Directory of Manufacturers’ Sales Agencies (Manufacturing Agents National Association) – Lists manufacturer’s sales agencies alphabetically and by state.  All companies included are members of the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association.  Also has information on how to select a sales agent.

Encyclopedia of Associations (Gale Research) Guide to thousands of National and International organizations.  Contains contact information and descriptions and is indexed by name, key word, and geographic area.

Thomas Register of Manufacturing This widely used directory includes national listing of most manufacturing firms.