Industry Research

Last week I visited the entrepreneurship class to talk about research for their business plans. Industry research is a big component. There are many reasons to learn to do effective research on an industry– you might be working on a business plan, however industry research can also be very useful when you are trying to land a job or invest in a company. In these scenarios, having insight into an industry is imperative for good decision making and planning.

There are many resources out there for researching industries, both freely available online and paid resources available through the library. I’ll use the example of doing research on the beer industry, because it’s 30 degrees out and I’m daydreaming about a cold one, and also because I stumbled across a few articles about beer companies earlier this week that got me thinking about the industry: from Forbes, an article about a failed brewing empire; from Slate, an article about Anheuser-Busch and the craft beer movement; and from the Globe and Mail, an article about a failed ad campaign by Molson Coors Canada.

So beer is in the news, and if you were interested in looking further into the beer industry in Canada, where would you start?

For industry research (well, for most research!), I start by thinking about WHO would publish information about an industry? In most cases, I would suggest checking news and trade publications that publish current information on companies and industries; government sources that collect and publish information on businesses and industries (often in the form of data and statistics); and library databases are a great place to look for industry profiles written by big market research firms.

So to start– newspapers are great for information– check the national papers for articles like the one above about Molson Coors, or library databases like Canadian Newsstand for articles that are behind pay-walls. News articles will often quote other reports– look out for associations or reports named in news articles, and go try to find those for more information.

Trade associations will often have research, reports, and magazines where they publish current information for those in the field– for example on Beer Canada‘s website, I found the interesting factlet that Canadians drank just over 65 litres of beer per person in 2012.

Beer trade associations: Beer Canada, BC Craft Brewers Guild

Government collects information and reports on industries– check out Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s market information on the Canadian Brewery Industry, including lots of stats on sales, performance and employment (they also list the names of beer associations across Canada).

Industry profiles by market research companies can be found in the library’s subscription to Passport— find in-depth reports as well as data on top companies and sales– some sample report titles: Beer in Canada; Beer: A New Dawn Brewing; company profiles on Big Rock Brewing, Anheuser-Busch, etc., and also articles like Beer for Women: Clever Marketing or Just Insulting? Check other databases like Business Source Complete for industry and company profiles as well.

And the library has many books on industries… for detailed histories the following books might make for good reading while sipping on a beer in your backyard this summer:

Craft beer revolution : the insider’s guide to B.C. breweries / Joe WiebeCraftBeer

Bitter brew : the rise and fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s kings of beer / William Knoedelseder

Last Canadian beer : the Moosehead story / Harvey Sawler

House of suds : a history of beer brewing in Western Canada / William A. Hagelund

Lager heads : Labatt, Molson and the people who created Canada’s beer wars / Paul Brent

For more research suggestions, see the library’s Industry Research Guide, and check out the Small Business Accelerator’s Craft Beer Industry Profile and their Craft Beer Accelerator Guide

Happy researching 🙂





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