The elusive perfect source

What you are after may not exist in exactly the form (or price!) that you desire. For example, you may be hoping to find a current overview of the satellite transmitter market in B.C., but you may only be able to find a discussion of the "Communication and Other Electronic Equipment" industry in the U.S.

Definitely start by looking for a perfect survey using the resources and tips listed below, but also be prepared to pursue a combination of the following two strategies:

  1. Make assumptions and estimates about how much of the information in the imperfect report(s) you found fits your needs (such reports are rarely completely unusable); and/or...
  2. Search for the information you need to create your own industry survey (business conditions, competitors, trends, etc.) starting with the SFU Library guides to Market Research & International Market Research and the other guides listed below.

Resources and tips


IBISWorld Industry Reports - Canada module
This module within our IBISWorld database offers over 400 reports on major Canadian industries.  Each 30-40 page report covers key statistics and analysis on market characteristics, operating conditions, current and forecast performance, major industry participants and more.

Small Business Accelerator Guides
Aimed at new BC businesses, these accelerator guides are designed to quickly get you to the information you need to start your business. Covering narrowly-focused industries (Fashion Design, Filmmaking, Florists, and Furniture Making, for example), each guide will help you find industry, competitor, and customer information.

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada)
Try Industry Sector Intelligence for data and analysis on all Canadian industries.

Statistics Canada publications
Browse their Manufacturing, Retail & Wholesale, Construction, and other subject categories.

BC Stats
Start with their Business, Industry and Trade page for links to resources on a wide range of industries.  

Vancouver Economic Development Commission
Brief descriptions of local industries from aerospace to tourism in their Our Focus  section.

WorkBC - Industry Profiles
Industry information from the perspective of potential employees: wages, factors that affect employment, workforce demographics, etc.

Business in Vancouver
Great local information with details on key companies and industries. Includes the Book of Lists [print].


Analysis of over 1300 narrowly-defined US industries providing insight into current and future industry performance, changing trends, operating conditions and supply chain linkages.

Encyclopedia of American Industries (2018 edition)
Online for SFU researchers via the Gale Virtual Reference Library   

United States government
Start with the Census Bureau's Business & Economy page, especially the Data by Sector options such as Retail Trade. Also try the Bureau of Labor Standard's Industries at a Glance page.


Business Monitor International (BMI) via Nexis Uni
Many separate BMI publications, each with a different industry and/or geographic focus such as the BMI Medical Devices Report and BMI Asia Pacific Food and Drink Insights. BMI publications with "Report" in the title tend to contain more analysis, while those with "Insight" in the title have more of a news focus.

Business Source Complete
Includes thousands of detailed industry reports. Start your search by clicking on Industry Profiles on the right side of the Business Source Complete search screen or try this shortcut. Some specific publications to watch for:

Canadian Trade Commissioner Service 
Market Research Reports by Sector & by Region/Country
Reports are free for Canadians, but. you'll need to register (free) to view some of them.

Frost & Sullivan
In-depth industry and market research reports with global coverage of emerging technologies and services in many industries.

Gale's industry encyclopedias
A single-search option for several Gale titles such as the Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries and the Encyclopedia of Global Industries. Gale also publishes some marketing titles such as the Encyclopedia of Global Brands that may be of use. Start your search by entering the name of your commodity, product, or sector, or even just the name of a major company in the industry.

GlobalData - Industry Forecast Reports
Country-specific reports for a wide range of products. Each report covers: market growth dynamics; key market trends; competitive forces; and leading companies in the industry. Coverage to 2019 only.

globalEDGE: Insights by Industry
Covers 20 broad industries (Aerospace & Defense to Transport Manufacturing) with a strong international focus.  Includes lists of resources as well as analysis, statistics, and lists of key corporations, regulatory agencies, and more.

Analysis of US, Canada, China and global industries providing insight into current and future industry performance, changing trends, operating conditions and supply chain linkages.

International Directory of Company Histories
Sometimes reading the history of some key companies in an industry (their changing strategies and fortunes) will help you understand the industry overall.

International Trade Administration (U.S. Dept. of Commerce) - Industries
Export oriented market information on industries ranging from Aerospace to Tourism.  Note that the amount of information provided at this site varies widely for different industries.

MarketLine Industry Profiles
Consult these sources for detailed information about your industry or sector.  Remember that American and other international surveys may be relevant to Canada as trends, products, and other developments are sometimes similar across borders. 

Mergent Industry Reports via Factiva (to Feb. 2019 only)
​Detailed reports on industries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Industries covered include: Automotive, Electricity, Metal Works, Media, Oil and Gas, Precious Metals, IT, Mining, Insurance, Food, Telecommunications, Biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, Heavy Construction. Click on the Modify Search button, then add search terms to focus on your topic (e.g., adding biotech*  will find reports that touch on biotechnology topics).

Mergent Intellect - First Research Industry Reports
The First Research industry profiles in Mergent Intellect cover over 500 industries (1000 segments) and provide forecasts, key financials, and major industry websites. They also contain overviews of the critical issues, trends, challenges & opportunities currently affecting each industry and notes on top-of-mind concerns by C-suite executives -- useful features for those who are preparing for a networking event, job interview, or sales meeting.

Plunkett's Research Online
SFU researchers have access to several online  (PDF) industry almanacs in this series. Industries covered range from Entertainment & Media to Biotech & Genetics. The reports are global in scope, but tend to focus on the US.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers - Industry Overviews
Choose an industry (from automotive to telecommunications) to get an overview of current global conditions and, in some cases, detailed reports. Also see our blog post on finding industry information at the sites of other major consulting firms.

You may know Statista as a portal to statistics on many topics, but it also provides Industry Overviews (essentially collections of statistics) on topics ranging from Advertising to Wellness & Spas,  as well as Industry Outlooks.

TechNavio via Factiva (Coverage to Spring 2017 only.)
Forecasting reports on largely technology-focused products and industries. Tend to be focused on emerging technology trends, with many dealing with healthcare and B2B areas, although fast-moving consumer goods such as cigarettes and juice are also covered. Click on the Modify Search button, then add search terms to focus on your topic (e.g., add automo*  to find reports on automobile or automotive topics).

Wall Street Transcript
Interviews with sector research analysts, money market managers, and CEOs. Often provide information on how analysts review the investment potential of an industry. 

Business Insights (Coverage to 2012 only.)
ery detailed reports looking at trends in specific industries and markets (esp. consumer products, financial services, healthcare, energy, and technology) from a strategic management perspective. 

Tips for all regions

Try searching for articles (in any of the indexes listed below) or web sites that mention two or three of the key companies in the industry.  Such articles/sites are often about the industry as a whole.

Try reading the press releases and annual reports of key companies in the industry.  The CEO's Letter to the Shareholders (part of the annual report) often contains a summary of industry trends. Check the SFU Library guides Company Information and Annual Reports for tips on how to find such material.

Associations are often a great source for industry information.  Start your search for relevant associations with the SFU Library guide to Finding business and trade associations.

It never hurts to try a general web search for industry profiles.  Try to use search terms that you would expect to see in a published profile. For example, a Google search for mining "industry profile" Canada uncovers some interesting results.

Brief industry surveys

Surveys -- or at least current industry information -- can often be found in business trade magazines and newspapers.  Search for such articles in the following sources:

Business Source Complete
Includes many industry magazines such as Beverage Industry, Global Cosmetic Industry, Worldwide Energy, and Worldwide Telecom. Try the subjects Industrywide conditions or Business conditions or Trends or Earning trends combined with the name of your industry as part of your search.

CBCA Fulltext Business
Search through business, industry, and professional news publications, all with a Canadian focus.

Canadian Newsstream
Full text of nearly 300 newspapers from Canada's leading publishers, including the Globe & Mail and the National Post, as well as local papers such as the Vancouver Sun, the Province, Vancouver Courier, and the Burnaby Now.

Often provides scholarly articles on the structural aspects of an industry.

Nexis Uni
Includes the fulltext of a large number of very current industry magazines such as American Banker and Biotech Business.

Comparing a company to its industry (financials)

S&P Capital IQ  
Search for your target company, then navigate to Financials/Valuation > Ratios.  Also look for Peer Analysis > Quick Comps to gather and average ratios from peer companies.  To get pre-calculated industry ratios, select Markets (top navigation bar) and choose a broad industry, then go to Industry Profile > Key Stats & Ratios.

SFU students, faculty and staff must register with a valid SFU email address in order to access S&P Capital IQ. Normally, this step must be completed while you are on campus, but due to the restricted access to campuses during the pandemic, remote registration is currently possible. Once you are registered, you will have off-campus access. (Registration troubleshooting tips)

Other relevant SFU Library guides

Biotechnology Industry Resources

Annual Reports

Ratio Analysis

Company Information


Marketing Research

International Market Research