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Before you start searching, it pays to spend a few minutes thinking about:
(a) what you are searching for; and
(b) who might publish that information.
Presuming that you aren't going to be able to find a completely perfect report on your topic (current data, relevant geographic area, exact product, comprehensive, etc.), you need to think about what the components of a perfect report might be so that you can look for them and build your own report.
- What do you need to know about the broad market for your type of product or for your industry?
- What would you like to know about the competitors and alternative products?
- Are the general business conditions likely to play a factor?
- Do you need to know anything about the demographics and preferences of consumers?
This guide is organised roughly by the types of sources that may answer these types of questions. Knowing exactly what your questions are before you start searching will help you choose relevant tools and sources and will save you time!
Common sources of marketing information include trade associations, government departments, private research firms, and academic researchers. Details about reports created by any of these organisations may appear in business news and trade publications.
Your search will be more efficient if you start by thinking about who is most likely to gather and publish the information you need. For example, governments are great at publishing data on business conditions. Academics, on the other hand, tend to research how/why topics such as consumer behaviour and motivations.
Articles in the business press are a great source of information about industry trends, new products, market projections, and other topics.
Academic Search Premier
Fulltext articles from a wide range of titles available online. Some of the journals covered are "popular" so be careful if you need to find "academic" sources. One way to limit your search to more academic sources is to check the box beside "peer-reviewed" on the Advanced search screen.
Business Source Complete
Fulltext for 1200 scholarly business journals, as well as thousands of trade magazines in all business areas. Also includes several thousand company, industry, and market reports.
An example of the sort of non-academic reports available in Business Source: Marketline Industry Profile: Mobile Phones in Canada.
Fulltext database of major Canadian newspapers such as the Vancouver Sun, the Calgary Herald, and the Montreal Gazette, as well as the newspapers of many smaller cities and towns such as the Burnaby Now.
Fulltext database of news and legal publications. A source for company directories as well as business/industry/general news sources from around the world.
Marketing has many psychology aspects (how do people think? how do they react?). PsycInfo covers many marketing journals in addition to hundreds of psychology sources that touch on marketing and consumer behaviour.
Connect to the list of databases for the Marketing Area for further suggestions.
From Citation to Article explains the many ways to find the actual article(s) after you have searched the databases.
Trade or industry associations can be excellent sources for statistics and other industry information such as company directories and regulatory briefs.
A few ways to find relevant associations:
- Try a simple Google search for your target industry plus a geographic region and the phrase "industry association" will almost always unearth key associations. Example: wine industry association Canada. If you don't find a local association, try searching for one at the national or international level.
- Browse the SFU Library's Associations research guide
- Scan articles on your topic in databases such as Business Source Complete and Canadian Newsstream and watch for any articles that mention associations, especially ones where the associations have released reports. Then search the web for the association site. For example, the article "Tracking changes in British Columbia's vibrant wine scene" in Canadian Newsstream mentions the Wine Growers British Columbia industry association which offers many reports and statistics at their site.
Industry surveys and market reports may provide detailed information about your industry or market, but it can be very difficult to find a survey that perfectly matches your specific product, region, and industry. Remember that American and global surveys may be relevant to Canada as trends, products, and other developments are often very similar in many countries.
Start with the sample resources listed below, then check the Industry Surveys guide for more resources and search tips.
This database contains market reports offering strategic analysis of consumer lifestyles, service and retail markets, global industry overviews, and in-depth consumer markets, in addition to data on specific products, companies, and countries. Its main focus is on fast moving consumer goods (food, apparel, etc.).
Frost & Sullivan
Covers a wide range of sectors (e.g., Healthcare, Energy, ICT, Transportation) with a particular strength in emerging technologies. See this blog post and watch this 3-minute video for more details.
Analysis of US, Canada, China and global industries providing insight into current and future industry performance, changing trends, operating conditions and supply chain linkages. Watch this video (3 minutes) to learn more about IBISWorld.
Business Source Complete
Select Industry Overview in the Document Type area of the search screen, then search for your industry.
Industry Information from Gale eBooks
Search through the Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries, the Encyclopedia of Global Industries, and the Encyclopedia of American Industries, among others. 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.
Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada: Canadian Industry Statistics
Canadian government resources. Also see their Industry Sector Intelligence.
United States Census Bureau: Current Industrial Reports
Check out the US Census Bureau's Business & Economy page for additional data and reports.
Governments collect and publish a large amount of information on all aspects of Canadian life. Start with these sources, then check out longer SFU Library guides such as Statistics - BC, Statistics - Canada and the Government Sources for Business Research section of the main Business research guide.
- GeoSearch for community information
Census data for all communities across Canada. This database retrieves Statistics Canada data in a user-friendly way: simply locate your target metro area, town, or neighbourhood on the interactive map and get a list of relevant census data publications, including community profiles.
- Business and consumer services and culture
A less-common (but powerful!) way to search for information from Statistics Canada: this pre-run search of surveys on business, consumer and cultural services will take you to active surveys that Statistics Canada runs on aspects of that broad topic. Choose a relevant survey, then look for tabs listing both data and analysis that has been produced by the survey.
- Statistics Canada Catalogue
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Sector overviews, data, and reports
Data, analysis, and resources on food product consumption trends. Much of their site is focused on international markets, but some of the reports cover domestic consumer trends. For example, see this report on bakery products in Canada.
Online copies of reports by many Canadian government agencies, as well as reports from think tanks and research institutes. Use the Filters/Facets option on the search screen to focus on Public Documents.
Finding good local information can be very challenging. You may discover that the very specific local information you are hoping to find is not available, so you may need to adapt the information that's available to suit your purposes. Here's a selection of local information sources to get you started:
- City of Vancouver (also see sites for other municipalities)
- Destination Vancouver (tourism focus) especially their Marketing Research page
- Vancouver Economic Commission
- Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association
- Business Council of British Columbia
- BC Chamber of Commerce
- British Columbia Economic Development Association
- Metro Vancouver
- BC Stats
- SFU's Office of Institutional Research and Planning
Examples of the type of local information one might find on these sites:
- Vancouver Open Data Portal (access to city datasets; new datasets added regularly)
- VanMap (view data about Vancouver in map form)
- Traffic Counts (City of Vancouver)
- Walking in Vancouver (City of Vancouver)
- Vancouver Business and Investment Guide (from the VEC - you need to fill out a form to view it - also see their Our Focus page)
- Metro Vancouver - Regional SWOT and Scenario Analysis
- Undergraduate Headcount by Semester, Faculty, Year Level and Gender (SFU's Office of Institutional Research and Planning)
Be sure to search the Canadian news indexes:
- Search the Library Catalogue using terms such as "market" or "trade" or "industry" plus the name of your product. Searching by KEYWORD is generally the best way to start. SUBJECT searching is more precise but you may miss useful titles. Example: a keyword search for bookselling will get you results with such subjects as Book industries and trade & Booksellers and bookselling.
- Search the Internet to find discussions or studies about your industry or product. It often helps to include the names of at least a couple of the key companies in the industry/market as part of your search.
- Most market research reports will not be found in libraries or free on the web due to cost and copyright issues. Some market research companies will publish brief reports on the web available to non-subscribers. Check out Nielsen Canada's Insights, for example. See also this blog post for more links to the social media of private research firms.
Directories provide information such as company or organization addresses and phone numbers, and may also provide executive's names, products, trade names, and so on. Traditionally, directories were available only in print but most useful titles are now accessible through databases and on the web. Some web directories require you to register and pay a fee before you can use them, or will only let you access some of their contents for free.
Below is a sample list of a few key directories for Canadian company and organization information. Check out the brief guide to Canadian business directories for more.
Vancouver and British Columbia
- Yellow Pages
- BC211 (Red Book Online - for community, government and social services in BC)
- The Business in Vancouver Book of Lists [print]: Updated lists appear weekly in Business in Vancouver
- Canadian Trade Index
- Hoover's Company Reports (via Nexis Uni): basic and in-depth profiles of thousands of companies.
- Mergent Intellect contains brief D&B records for almost every company in Canada (and beyond!).
- Check out the brief guide to Canadian business directories for more Canadian suggestions.
Specialised (examples only)
- Plunkett's solar power, wind power & renewable energy industry almanac 2023 (see Plunkett Research Online for more almanacs like this one)
- Organic BC Directory (BC organic food, farms, and businesses)
- Thomas (formerly Thomas Register of American Manufacturers) (includes Canadian companies)
- S&P Capital IQ
Financial and brief descriptive information for thousands of major public companies in the world. Within the database, go to Companies > Filings & Annual Reports.
The system used since 1997 to electronically file information with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities. Includes annual reports, interim financial statements, press releases and prospectuses.
- Passport : Includes market share information for thousands of consumer goods companies and brands in many countries.
- Statista : Statistics portal. Covers many market share topics. Add your product or company to this initial search. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more about Statista.
- Frost & Sullivan : Many of the Industry Research Analysis reports includes market share estimates for emerging technologies and services.
- Market Share Reporter : Find market share data extracted from a wide range of sites and publications. (Coverage to 2017 only)
- Also search Business Source Complete, Canadian Newsstream, Factiva, and/or Nexis Uni for articles in the business press which sometimes touch on market shares.
- BC Business Top 100 (print magazine in all SFU Library branches). Also online.
- The Business in Vancouver Book of Lists (available in all SFU Library branches: print)
- Canadian Business: Growth 500
- Financial Post: FP 500.
- Globe & Mail Report on Business 1000
See Company Information for further sources.
- Statistics Canada
- Bank of Canada Review
- British Columbia Financial and Economic Review
- Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada
- Statistics Canada
A statistics portal that integrates statistics from thousands of sources and provides simple exports of both data and charts in multiple formats. Read this blog post and watch this 3-minute video to learn more.
This database contains data on consumer trends in many countries, including drinking and eating habits, spending patterns, and crime and culture indicators; as well as market size data on hundreds of consumer products.
Ipsos News Centre
Public opinion reports on topics ranging from consumer products to social issues. Also see Gallup.com for freely available Gallup public opinion polling reports, as well as the Angus Reid Institute and Research Co. for Canada-focused opinion reports & data.
Best customers: demographics of consumer demand & Household spending: Who spends how much on what
Two ebooks with data on the demographics of consumers in the United States. Data is taken from the Consumer Expenditure Survey of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Strategies (2019) & Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Strategies (2013) & Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns (2007)
Three online volumes covering the background, tactics, and outcomes from dozens of real marketing campaigns over the last couple decades. Search here to cover all three titles at once. If you are looking for details on an older campaign, check the first volume in the same series, only available in print at the Bennett Library.
Detailed Canadian consumer data covering product/service purchases, leisure activities, opinions, and demographics. Start with this user guide for an introduction to this powerful but complex database.
Map and rank Canadian neighbourhoods by their spending and census descriptions as well as by psychographic groupings. (Statistics Canada and Environics Analytics data)
The residents/consumers portion of Mergent Intellect is largely focused on US residents. It offers detailed demographic and lifestyle information at an individual level, as well as comprehensive search/export options.
Business Plans and Profiles Index
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's list of (mostly) freely available Business Plans, from plans for accounting consulting firms to wineries. Business plans can be a great source for gathering cost information.
See also these 44 volumes of the Business Plans Handbook — all online and searchable for SFU researchers.