Category: research

Industry Research: The Sharing Economy

When it comes to Uber or Airbnb, how do you categorize those services into a distinct industry? As Rashmi Dyal-Chand asks in the Tulane Law Review, “Is Airbnb a hotel chain, a rental agency, or a website provider? Is Uber a taxicab service employing hundreds of drivers or a developer of an app?”

My guess is that the best way to get a 360 degree view of the industry would be to do a little research in all those areas (hotels, rentals, website providers), to get a good feel for where things are and where they are heading. SWOTs or industry reports for the hotel industry might mention Airbnb and their stake in the industry, for example, as might articles about peer-to-peer websites.

A quick search in OCtopus for “sharing economy” brings up a wealth of articles in both scholarly and popular sources.

Use different keywords– try specific company names (like Airbnb or Uber, to name only those that I am familiar with!), as well as terms like “sharing economy,” “peer-to-peer networks,” and “collaborative networks” (these are a few terms that show up in article searches- different writers may use different terms for the same concept).

A lot of interest in the scholarly realm seems to be related to regulation within the industries. Trade journals and popular sources often focus on how to compete or keep up to date with this new type of business. Where you are gathering information will have some impact on the type of information you will find.

Here are some examples of articles, both scholarly and popular, on the topic:

Chafkin, M. (2016). AIRBNB OPENS UP THE WORLD. Fast Company, (202), 76-95

Bradley, R. (2015). Lyft’s Search for a New Mode of Transport. MIT Technology Review, 118(6), 48-53

Malhotra, A., & Van Alstyne, M. (2014). The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy … and How to Lighten It. Communications Of The ACM, 57(11), 24-27

Marchi, A., & Parekh, E. (2016). HOW THE SHARING ECONOMY CAN MAKE ITS CASE. Mckinsey Quarterly,03/31/2016(1), 112-116

Sundararajan, A. (2016). What Governments Can Learn From Airbnb And the Sharing Economy. Fortune.Com, 1

And a couple books, for a more detailed look:

Stephany, A. (2015). The Business of Sharing : Making It in the New Sharing Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Johal, S., & Zon, N. (2015). Policy making for the sharing economy : beyond whack-a-mole. Toronto : Mowat Centre

OC Library users have access to the database Passport, which might provide some stats and analysis on the sharing economy or specific companies within that realm. However, Euromonitor (the company behind Passport) has a blog where they post valuable information for free (as do many other market research companies, to point out their paid resources), such as in this post: The New Consumerism: The Reach of the Sharing Economy

Other freely available reports online include this one by PricewaterhouseCoopers: The Sharing Economy

From these reports and posts, we can glean info such as what types of services and goods are best suited to the sharing economy, the names of up-and-coming companies in the industry (who has heard of Spinlister, Rover, or Roost?), and the percentage of the US population that has provided services through one of the sharing economy platforms (1.4%!)

There’s so much to learn…



Industry research: Hotel industry

Have you heard of “braggies”??

I came across the term in a report on global travel trends. Apparently hotel chains are rewarding guests who share their “braggies” on social media– “braggies” are usually pictures taken from a hotel window to show off the views, or pictures of the room and amenities, which are shared within minutes of checking in. Some hotel chains are rewarding “braggie” posters with room upgrades or mini-bar credits.

A riff on the selfie, braggies are being used as promotional tools for hotels. This got me thinking about what other trends are going on in the industry? Are Airbnb and other peer-to-peer accommodation sites having an effect on the industry? What about the industry in the Okanagan, or Kelowna? Here is a brief breakdown on how you might start researching the industry, with both library resources and free online resources.

As I would start any type of research, my usual thoughts go to: who would gather information on this topic, and who would publish it? You could start with a search online, but spending a few minutes thinking about and researching associations or research groups who deal directly with an industry can save you time. Instead of weeding through pages of irrelevant information, try going right to ‘those in the know’.

In terms of library resources, my thoughts go to our subscription database, Passport. Passport contains industry and company reports and statistics about consumer products such as drinks (alcoholic, soft, hot), appliances, beauty products, pet care, and also services such as finance, foodservice, and travel and tourism. I know they have trend reports on the travel industry, as well as information about the travel industry in Canada and other countries. The first thing I see when I click on the Travel and Tourism link is an article called “Millennials – A New Breed of Travelers”. Interesting– this post provides more details on the impact of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1990) on the travel industry, including information on social media and the importance of being connected (bringing us back to that “braggie” trend). I haven’t even got to the in-depth industry reports and I’ve already spied on the first page a videocast on the travel sharing economy (Airbnb, Uber) and an infographic on consumer spending increases on hotel bookings due to online booking systems. More traditional reports include Travel Accommodation in Canada, World Travel Market Trends Report (which has information on trends such as “braggies” and “poshtels”), and reports on Airbnb and various global hotel chains.

Other databases like Business Source Complete and ABI/Inform will have reports on the hotel industry written by market research firms, as well as articles in trade publications discussing trends and current events from those who work in the industry. It’s good to get views from inside and outside the industry for a more rounded look. For example in Business Sources Complete I can find reports by searching for: hotel industry, and then limiting to industry reports:

Marketline. (2014). Global Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines: Industry Profile. Retrieved from

Marketline. (2014). Hotels & Motels Industry Profile: Canada. Retrieved from

I would also try a search for hotel trends, or travel trends, and limit to trade publications and magazines, to see what those in the industry are talking about, on a global or local scale.

So those are a few examples of what library databases can help find… what about free resources online?

I would check out industry associations for more information, as they are likely to distribute information for their members, and often have reports available on their websites. For example, the BC Hotel Association has some statistics on international visitors to BC, as well as links to recent news on the industry (I see an article on “Li-Fi”, smart coffee makers, and other new tech trends in the industry), and their own online magazine with trends affecting BC hotels (with articles like: “Targeting Business Travellers”).

Other industry associations:

Hotel Association of Canada

American Hotel and Lodging Association

Destination BC (great reports on tourism in BC by region, market, activity, and travel motivations)


And check out the library research guide for Tourism, which has more information on finding stats and resources related to travel and tourism. The Data & Statistics tab has links to various BC and Canadian Government sources for finding information on tourism, such as room revenue statistics for BC and tourism indicators.

Now I want to go check into a poshtel, connect to the Li-Fi, and post a braggie…

In the news

There are so many ways to keep up-to-date on current business events– and keeping current (even if it means just reading some headlines everyday and bookmarking articles to look at later, or skimming through tweets) is vital for many reasons. For business decisions, strategy, information on your competition, job opportunities, investments– knowing trends, events, strengths and weaknesses can help you in long run. It may also help with your conversational skills to have a few good news stories in your back pocket!

To keep current you can of course use social media– Facebook and Twitter are both valuable for following companies and news sources– check out lists like this to find the top business and leadership twitter accounts to follow. I’d recommend following major business news sources such as Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider.

Get email notifications from major publications too– that way you can wake up to a list of hot topics in your inbox every morning from sources like the Financial Times. Many of the big newspapers are now behind pay walls, however they often allow a certain amount of free articles a month (some only if you register).

Look for local sources to round out your reading– see what local news and businesses are using social media to keep up with regional information. Cities, newspapers, local politicians and reporters, are great ways to keep in the loop.

Some of the interesting articles I came across this week:

Tech industry news: The now infamous Microsoft layoffs and memo.

Entrepreneurship: A new co-working space: Beta Collective

Marketing: “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”— how to improve business, reduce waste, and get consumers to eat their vegetables

Wine Industry: “Wine social media pays off”— wine marketing ROI

What ways do you keep up-to-date on business news?

Happy reading 🙂



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 🙂