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International market research information resources

Use this guide as a starting point for your research, but remember that there are many more sources than those listed here.  Ask for help at the help desk in any of the SFU Library locations.  You may also Ask a librarian.

NOTE: We've highlighted some key resources that have proven particularly useful for international marketing assignments at SFU in the past (look for  Key resource), but note that all of the resources in this guide are potentially of use depending on the country and product you are researching.

Business conditions & market reports

Multi-country tables

The following sources have tables with data on topics such as GDP, imports by commodity group, and price levels for large groups of countries.  As with all of the sections of this guide, the sources listed aren't exhaustive - try looking for similar sources at the sites of international organizations.

CIA World Factbook
A good source for basic multi-country data covering key topics such as communications and the economy.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
A good source of recent economic data on a broad range of countries.  The link above will take you to the FRB-St. Louis publications page.  Two more specific links follow:

  • International Economic Trends (Quarterly)
    A compilation of data on the G-7 countries and the Euro area, including output, inflation, labor markets, interest rates, government budgets, international trade and more.  Has multi-country comparative tables as well as more detailed tables and graphs by individual country.
  • International Economic Trends (Annual Edition)
    A graphical presentation of key economic data since 1987, covering 31 countries and the euro area. Data on output, inflation, monetary aggregates, interest rates, government budgets, current accounts, exchange rates and foreign exchange reserves.  Has multi-country comparative tables as well as more detailed tables and graphs by individual country.                .

IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook  Key resource
Aggregates statistics from  international organizations such as the World Bank, OECD, United Nations, WTO, UNESCO and the IMF, to rank countries according to their competitiveness.

International Labor Comparisons (ILC) program (Conference Board)
"Provides international comparisons of hourly compensation costs; productivity and unit labor costs; labor force, employment and unemployment rates; and consumer prices. The comparisons relate primarily to the major industrial countries, but other countries are included in certain measures." (Older data is available via the original US government ILC site.)

Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries
An annual statistical data book of the Asian Development Bank. Includes XLS and PDF files comparing 38 countries on such topics as population, labor force and employment, national accounts, production, energy, price indices, money and banking, government finance, external trade, balance of payments, international reserves, exchange rates, and external indebtedness.

Market Potential Indicators for Emerging Markets   Key resource
A table comparing the market potential of the 23 countries listed as "Emerging Markets" by the Economist.  Rankings cover such areas as country risk, market growth rate, and commercial infrastructure.  There is also a link to the archives of the rankings back to 1996.

NationMaster
Easy access to data from sources such as the UN, the OECD, Euromonitor, and the CIA World Factbook.

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) - Statistics
The OECD has many statistical publications as well as some free statistics at its web site.  The link above will take you to their main statistics page, but many of the titles listed require a subscription.  (Check SourceOECD below for such titles.)  The resources listed below will actually get you some numbers on your screen.  [Note: Member countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. Non-Member countries include Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and the Ukraine.]  

  • OECD iLibrary for SFU Researchers
    Includes publications such as OECD Economic Surveys, International trade by commodities statistics, Indicators of Industry and Services, and Quarterly national accounts, as well as many downloadable datasets.

Passport  Key resource

  • Data on consumer trends in almost 100 countries, including drinking and eating habits, spending patterns, and crime and culture indicators;
  • market size data on 330 consumer products in 50+ countries, often with a forecast;
  • market profiles for 8 of the world’s leading industrialized countries;
  • thousands of market reports offering strategic analysis of consumer lifestyles, service and retail markets, global industry overviews, and in-depth consumer markets; and
  • demographic and economic statistics, with forecasts, across 205 countries.

Penn World Table
The Penn World Table "provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 182 countries for some or all of the years 1950-2014."

Tariff and Tax Information (via Export.gov)
Has links to resources on regional, country, and product tariff and tax details. Also see the World Customs Organization and the WTO's TariffData for more tariff resources.

Thomson Reuters Eikon + Datastream 
Although Eikon's very detailed information on publicly traded companies around the world may also be useful, the true value of this resource for international marketing researchers could be its Datastream section in which you can find and graph thousands of economic & commodity time series (among many other topics).   (Note that this database is quite complex. Ask for help!)
         .
UNdata - United Nations Statistical Common Database  Key resource
A compilation of United Nations and agency statistics, covering economic, social, financial, and development topics. 

World Bank Group

  • World Development Indicators  Key resource
    Multi-country tables from the World Bank covering various demographic, economic, and trade factors. 
  • Data by Topic
    Quick links to competitiveness indicators, ICT data, At-a-Glance tables, and more. See the left column at theis site for links to Quick Reference Tables, Data by Country, and more.
  • Doing Business: Benchmarking Business Regulations
    Indexes for comparing 145 countries on topics like starting a business, hiring and firing workers, enforcing contracts, getting credit, and closing a business.
     
  • Prospects for the Global Economy
    "An interactive publication featuring a forecast database for all World Bank regions and income groups, including latest macroeconomic data [...]; insightful calculators and simulation tools; valuable one-page briefs summarizing countries' external financial position and trade; individual commodity reports and price forecasts; and timely analysis of worldwide economic prospects and risk."
     
  • World eAtlas of Global Development
    Maps and graphs more than 175 thematically organized indicators for over 200 countries, letting you visualize and compare progress on the most important development challenges facing our world. The eAtlas uses World Development Indicators.  
World Trade Organization
  • International Trade Statistics: good source for tables that have current trade data for WTO member countries (exports and imports). 
  • Trade Policy Reviews: find out, on a country-by-country basis, the lastest information on trade policies of the many WTO member countries.

Country reports

Books

For general information about how to conduct search in the Library Catalogue, please refer to Library Catalogue search guide.

To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

Search the SFU Library Catalogue by subject under the following headings to find books and reports:

Search the Library Catalogue by keyword or subject using terms such as "economic conditions," "statistics," "industries," or "commerce" plus the name of the country you are researching: e.g. "japan economic conditions" to find books, reports, and articles.  

Articles

Search Article indexes (databases)  for journal and newspaper articles about countries, as well as for detailed market/economic/industry reports.

Web sites

The sources in this section feature detailed marketing, trade, and investment information on a wide range of countries.  If they don't have the data you need, try some of the sources listed in the Web guides section below. Note that some of these resources are available for SFU researchers only.

A.M. Best's Country Risk Center
Free risk analysis on many countries from the perspective of an insurance company.  

Canadian Trade Commissioner Service: Doing Business Abroad: Market Reports   Key resource
N.B. you must register for a (free) password to access many of these market reports. 

Country Background Notes (US State Dept.)
"Facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of independent states, some dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty"

Country Insights
The Global Affairs Canada's Centre for Intercultural Learning has created a web site with information on more than 200 countries. It covers social, political, economic, environmental and cultural issues.

Doing Business guides    Key resource
Many sources, from Deloitte to the World Bank, publish "Doing Business" guides that detail current tax policies, export regulations, economic environments, etc. for a wide range of countries. Some of them are relatively easy to find, but others require lots of digging.  Check out the sites of PwC, Deloitte, Grant Thornton, E&Y, and other major consulting firms to see what they have to offer.

Economist.com - Topic Index
Provides economic and political profiles, core statistics, essential recent articles and summaries of in-depth surveys from The Economist. Note that only some of the information is free, but it is still a useful site. (NOTE: See the full Economist Intelligence Unit database for much more detailed reports.)

Energy Information Administration [U.S.] - Country Analysis Briefs
Reports on the energy industries in many countries, as well as links to other country-specific information, not all of which is limited to the energy sector.

Ernst & Young
E&Y publishes reports that cover the tax details associated with doing business in over 130 countries, but they tend to bury them pretty deeply at their site. Try a quick search for "Doing Business In" (in quotation marks) at the link above (using the "all EY " search option) to get an idea what sorts of reports they produce. Also browse their country-specific libraries
UPDATE: (Summer 2014): The E&Y reports are also available in our Knotia.ca database.  Go directly to them via this link.

Export Development Canada -- Country Information  Key resource
A product of Export Development Canada, this site offers current reports that "monitor political and economic issues and gauge opportunities in more than 200 markets around the world" from the perspective of Canadian exporters.

Export.gov
Part of the US Commercial Service.  Start with their links to Export Information by Country (look especially at the latest Country Commercial Guide for your target country).

Global Property Guide
Although this site is aimed at people who might want to buy residential property in many countries, the information it provides may be helpful when you are planning for other products.

IBISWorld  Key resource
Analysis of hundreds of US, China, and Global industries, providing insight into current and future industry performance, changing trends, operating conditions and supply chain linkages.  

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada: Trade and Investment

  • Trade Data Online: "provides the ability to generate customized reports on Canada's and U.S. trade with over 200 countries" - by product and by industry. (Note: STAT-USA reports are no longer available via Industry Canada (Feb. 14, 2010).)

International Monetary Fund (IMF)- Country Information
Staff Country Reports, press releases, and occasional/working papers on almost every country.  If you are quoted a price when you click on something, look for a link to the PDF fulltext version - it should be free.  The Staff Country Reports are particularly good, but they can be long.  Save the time by checking the table of contents of the PDF files for the pages with tables and charts.  [As ofJan 2015): The IMF has made all of their statistical databases free.  Check out their new data portal to start.]

International Trade Administration (US)
The ITA page has resources to help US businesses compete globally.  These resources, including guides to doing business in many countries (via their Export.gov portal) as well as trade and economic statistics, may help you as well.  This site includes access to Trade Compliance and Trade Agreement (US) information for many countries.

OECD Economic Surveys
An in-depth, but narrative, economic analysis for each member country (and some non-member countries).  Access for SFU researchers only.

Passport  Key resource

  • Data on consumer trends in almost 100 countries, including drinking and eating habits, spending patterns, and crime and culture indicators;
  • market size data on 330 consumer products in 50+ countries, often with a forecast;
  • market profiles for 8 of the world’s leading industrialized countries;
  • thousands of market reports offering strategic analysis of consumer lifestyles, service and retail markets, global industry overviews, and in-depth consumer markets; and
  • demographic and economic statistics, with forecasts, across 205 countries.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization: Statistical Country Briefs
UNIDO offers basic data on most countries of the world (GDP, manufactured exports, manufacturing value added, etc.) as well as more detailed statistics such as labour productivity and wage rates by industry. (Choose a country, then click on 'Statistics' for the more detailed data.) [Sept 2017: These briefs appear to be unavailable at the moment, but they are still listed at the UNIDO site. Check back later!]

World Bank Group: World dataBank
Tables drawn from the World Bank Development Indicators and other WB sources giving quick reference numbers for 206 countries as well as various regional groupings.  Also see the World Bank's DoingBusiness database for details on the regulatory issues involved in setting up a business in any of over 145 countries.

Demographics & Cultural Analysis

Although rough demographic statistics (population, literacy rates, etc.) may be relatively easy to find, cultural information (what are local consumers' preferences regarding labels or bottle colours?) can be much more difficult to obtain.  It's often necessary to make assumptions and extrapolate from secondary information. 

The following tips are intended to help you identify and find potentially relevant cultural/demographic information, but remember that you may have to think very broadly and that, in the time you have to complete your assignment, perfect information may simply not be available.

Books

Search the Library Catalogue by keyword in Advanced Search using terms such as "social conditions," "politics and government," "corporate culture," or "business etiquette" plus the name of the country you are researching. e.g. "france and social conditions" to find books and reports.

Remember to scan any relevant keyword search results for subjects that you could use in a more targeted search.

A few good subject headings to explore, in both the SFU Library catalogue and other catalogues such as your local public library:

For demographic data, start with Passport, but also consult the other print and electronic sources listed in the Country Reports section of this guide, as well as any of the international business web guides for statistics.  Also consider the UN's Human Development Reports.

SFU databases

  • Search for Consumer Lifestyles reports in SFU's Passport (there are such reports for over 80 countries).  Key resource
  • Business Source Complete includes a series of country guides aimed at people who might want a career abroad. These Going Global guides tend to include sections on the local business culture.   Key resource
  • World Development Indicators.  World Bank: Access to over 600 development indicators including economic, social, environmental, business, and technology for more than 208 countries

Search strategies

What companies and brands are in the country now?  Do they have something in common? What kinds of products are discussed in the news?  What sorts of products are advertised?  Search article indexes and online news sources for journal and newspaper articles on such topics.

Read travel information in guide books and on the web (e.g., Lonely Planet or Rough Guides) to see what they say about the culture in a country/region.

Try the Business/Travel section of the Country Commercial Guides listed at the US Commercial Service's country pages (check the "Doing Business in..." section of the country you are working on). 

Check web sites from within the country as much as possible so that you get a better idea of the culture.  Read the advanced search options of most engines to learn the syntax for such searches.  You could also try a search engine targeted specifically at sites in your chosen country.  Check out Search Engine Colossus for a list of such engines.

Look for consumer culture material on a larger, related group, then make a judgment call about how much of the information applies to the consumers in the country you are studying.  For example, you may want to look for general information on eastern European consumers and markets if you are researching Bulgaria.  Similarly, you may want to look into Muslim consumers if you are researching Pakistan.

Vancouver is a very multicultural city: do you know of anyone from the country you are researching?  Can you arrange to meet them?  You might even consider looking for local cultural-social clubs.

More sites

  • The Government of Canada maintains an excellent website on cultural differences around the world, called Country Insights.  Key resource
  • Global Voices: "a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who work together to bring you translations and reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media"

Company information & industry analysis

Industry analysis

Note that the sources above (e.g., the Canadian Trade Commissioner and Export.gov sites) often provide some useful industry overviews.  You should also check out the many resources and tips described in the SFU Library guide to Industry Surveys.

Market share and rankings

  • Search for market share data within specific countries in SFU's Passport (there are such data within Passport for thousands of  major consumer goods companies).
  • Market Share Reporter  - several editions available online for SFU researchers.
  • Search Business Source Complete, Factiva,  and LexisNexis for articles in the business press containing terms such as "top companies," "ranking," and "marketshare."
  • Forbes: Various lists of top global or regional countries
  • Fortune's Global 500

Directories

Directories provide information such as company or organization addresses and phone numbers, and may also provide executive's names, products, tradenames, and so on.  Traditionally, directories were available only in print but many useful titles are now accessible through electronic databases and on the web.  Directories are a great way to identify the companies in a given sector or industry.

There are hundreds of print directories available in libraries and almost as many available as commercial databases or on the web.  Here's a  list of some key directories to start your research:

  • Hoover's Online. (Note: Hoover's full company profiles are available from within LexisNexis Academic for SFU researchers.)
  • Europages: The European Business Directory
    Searchable directory of over 2,600,000 companies in European countries.  A great way to find out some of the competitors in a sector if your project involves a European country.
  • Kompass: The Business to Business Search engine
    Get lists of key companies in specific industries for countries, regions, or the whole world.  Note that without a (paid) subscription you can only view partial lists, but these will at least give you some idea of the main competitors in an area.
  • MINT Global / ORBIS: Database with financial details on 64,000 publicly traded companies from around the world, as well as 147,000,000 private companies. Includes links to relevant MarketLine industry and company reports in many cases. MINT is the basic interface; ORBIS is the advanced interface.

The resources listed above are just a small sample of the places you can look for company information.  See Company Information or Annual Reports for further sources of information for Canadian and foreign companies.

Notes on key tools/sources

Most market research reports are not available free-of-charge on the web.  They are proprietary information from commercial publishing houses such as ACNielsen and can be difficult (and very expensive!) to obtain.  It often helps to instead think of who is likely to make information available, either for free or in articles, books, and reports available through your library.  The usual sources of such information are governments, associations, and the press (including journals, magazines, and newspapers).

Web searching

There are three basic approaches to finding something on the web:

Link from known sites:

Start with a known site, then use the links on that site to explore the topic further.  For example, the site of an international trade organization such as the WTO is very likely to have links to similar sources.  All of the sources above make great starting points for your research.  If you need more, try starting with the sites of government bodies, associations, and relevant publications.

Web guides:

A few web guides that specifically focus on international business resources:

  • globalEDGE: Insights by Country
    Statistical data for nearly every country around the world, as well as information on historical, economic, and political conditions that may be relevant to doing business in each country.
     
  • Governments on the WWW  Key resource
    This site includes links to government departmental sites, as well as to sites with relevant travel information (a good way to learn about the history and culture of the country), sites of the major embassies of the country (often a great source of information and links as they are seeking to increase investment in their country), and sites of some of the major online encyclopedias (another great source for background information). Note: As much as I like this site, it is getting a bit out-of-date. Another good source for a detailed directory of government and other resource sites within every country in the world is the Europa World Year Book (online for SFU researchers).
      
  • International Business Information Directory
    This site has links to key IB sites listed in a reference book.  The sites listed include online directories, news sources, chambers of commerce, government sources, stock exchanges, banks, and much more.  It's arranged by region (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa is Chapter 7).
  • International Trade Leads
    More than 2000 links to international trade web resources including trade policy reviews, international business associations, statistics sources, and trade leads. (Registration (free) required.)
      
  • WWW Virtual Library -- International Business and Economics
    Featuring the categories of Academic and Research Institutes, United States and Canadian Government sources, Business and Commercial, and International Organizations, the WWWVL of International Business is a great starting point for your research.

Articles

Articles in the business press are a great source of information about companies, industry trends, new products, market projections, and other topics.

Article indexes (databases):

Academic Search Complete
Fulltext articles from a wide range of journals and magazines.

Business Source Complete Key Resource
Full text for thousands of business journals, magazines, and news sources in all business areas. Includes detailed market reports with demand estimates by country for several thousand specific products. BSC also includes country reports from several key publishers such as the PRS (Political Risk Service), CountryWatch, Global Insight, and Marketline. Click on Country Reports in the right column of the main BSC screen to get to these reports or try this shortcut, then click on Publishers.

CBCA Complete
The essential Canadian index. Covers Canadian newspapers, scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade journals from 1982 to the present.

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Reports  Key resource
News, reports, and analysis on the latest business, political & economic conditions in most parts of the world. 

  • Note: See the EIU's tutorial on ViewsWire (their daily report) for some idea of the sort of info offered and how you might be able to make use of it.
  • And don't forget that we have the Economist magazine online for SFU researchers -- often a good place to learn about the all-important stories behind the numbers.

Factiva    Key resource
Factiva provides over 35,000 sources from 200 countries, in 26 languages. The global range of publications provides both local insight and international perspective on business issues and current events especially with regard to research requiring current information on companies, industries, and financial markets.

GeoBase
Development studies and human geography are among the many areas covered by this international database.  It can be a good source for academic articles on market structure in developing countries and regions.

LexisNexis Academic   Key resource
Fulltext database of business, legal, and news publications. American with strong international coverage. LexisNexis contains excellent current information on companies, products, and markets. Entire articles and reports are available online.  Because SFU has an "academic" subscription, access to some files is blocked for our users. 

PressReader   Key resource
5000+ newspapers from around the world with page-image versions of about the last 60 days. Great way to see advertisements abroad: What companies/brands are represented? How are the products portrayed?

Web-based news sources

These are just a few of the many international business news sources that you could try. Be sure to check out online article indexes such as Business Source Complete, Factiva and LexisNexis for access to far more publications.

Trade associations

Trade or industry associations can be excellent sources for statistics and other industry information, as well as for contact names.  Consult these sources to identify associations (or make an educated guess), then use a search engine such as Google or MetaCrawler to search the Internet for association pages.