Industry Profiles Collection

Donald N. Stengel, Editor

Company

and Industry

Research

Strategies and Resources

Hiromi Kubo

Thomas J. Ottaviano

Company and Industry

Research

Company and Industry

Research

Strategies and Resources

Hiromi Kubo

Thomas J. Ottaviano

Company and Industry Research: Strategies and Resources

Copyright © Business Expert Press, LLC, 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored

in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—

electronic, mechanical, photocopy , recording, or any other except for

brief quotations, not to exceed 250 words, without the prior permission

of the publisher .

First published in 2016 by

Business Expert Press, LLC

222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017

www .businessexpertpress.com

ISBN-13: 978-1-63157-037-7 (paperback)

ISBN-13: 978-1-63157-038-4 (e-book)

Business Expert Press Industry Profiles Collection

Collection ISSN: 2331-0065 (print)

Collection ISSN: 2331-0073 (electronic)

Cover and interior design by S4Carlisle Publishing Services

Private Ltd., Chennai, India

First edition: 2016

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America.

Abstract

The goal of this book is to describe information search strategies and techniques

critical for business practitioners and to pinpoint credible sources

of information on specific topics in company and industry research. In

today ’ s Information Age, businesses have an ever-growing need to obtain

quality information in a timely manner and incorporate it effectively into

decision making, and when such a need occurs business managers often

face a situation of performing information research themselves with a

limited budget.

Rather than frantically running searches on random websites with

much time wasted, it is imperative that they understand the nature of

business information research, develop a systematic plan for data collection

, and use appropriate information from credible sources. Becoming

familiar with the significance of these information resources is a key for

successful business research.

Keywords

business plan, business research, company research, competitive analysis,

industry research

Contents

Preface................................................................................................... ix

Acknowledgments ................................................................................... xi

Chapter 1

Introduction to Company and Industry Research ..............1

Chapter 2

Company Research ............................................................ 7

Chapter 3

Industry Research............................................................. 37

Chapter 4

Further Resources for Business Research..........................65

Chapter 5

Business Plans ..................................................................81

Index .................................................................................................101

Preface

This book is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces key

concepts and general procedures of business research with a focus on

company and industry information research. Chapters 2 and 3 describe

essential resources and search strategies for conducting company and

industry research. Chapter 4 covers additional vital resources for company

and industry research that do not fit into a single category . Each

chapter begins with a quick list of these resources and a discussion of a

step-by-step research strategy , followed by detailed reviews of each resource

presented. The research strategy includes the thought processes

and common research activities that must be followed to obtain business

information relevant to the particular needs. Finally , Chapter 5 illustrates

how to develop a successful business plan and discusses in detail the key

components.

Although the information compiled in this book is aimed largely at

those who are in the early stages of their business professions and entrepreneurships

, as well as college students in business programs, it will also

be valuable for those who have substantial experience in seeking business

information. We hope that the book will provide a concise compilation

of credible business information resources as a foundation and prepare

you to proceed with successful company and industry research from a

strategic base.

Please be aware that the lists of resources are not exhaustive. While

we covered many of the most notable resources, there are additional resources

that due to lack of access or familiarity , we were unable to review .

Please note that the authors do not endorse any commercial products

listed in this book.

Acknowledgments

A number of people were helpful in the development of this book. We

would especially like to acknowledge Donald N. Stengel, who read early

drafts of this manuscript and brought us the publishing opportunity . We

also wish to express our appreciation to our library colleagues and friends

who have given helpful suggestions and encouragement. Lastly , we are

grateful to our families for all their love and support throughout the preparation

of this book.

CHAPTER 1

Introduction to Company

and Industry Research

It is generally agreed that our modern society has experienced a major

change in producing, disseminating, and accessing information as it has

transitioned into today ’ s Information Age. A great deal of information

is being generated every day , and many more facts and data are easily

and quickly accessible to the public. Without question, the advent of

the Internet and the overall growth of communication technology particularly

in the past two decades have accelerated these changes, and this

technological growth is expected to continue even more drastically in

the near future. Furthermore, thanks to smartphones, tablets, and other

ever-evolving mobile devices, the same information we enjoy obtaining

at home is now available while we are on an airplane, at the beach, or

overseas as long as an Internet connection is secured.

The Internet and the associated technology also have benefited information

gatherers by reducing the cost of information and data . Some data

sources that used to be expensive or accessible only at specific dedicated

locations are now available on the Internet for much less or even free .

Along with commercial entities , many authoritative information providers

such as the U . S . government , which is the largest publisher in the

world , have also been moving rapidly to make more and more content

available over the Internet , making it easier than ever for the public to find

and obtain information .

Although this phenomenon is enormously beneficial for information

researchers, it also means that people must become skillful at weeding out

unnecessary and inadequate information to get to the truth. Particularly

in the business field, a company ’ s success relies heavily on the strategic

use of information. Indeed, carefully cultivated, applied information is

2 COMPANY AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH

indispensable for successful business entities and a key to organizational

effectiveness. This increasing emphasis on quality information necessitates

greater development of research skills for business practitioners and

those dealing with today ’ s business challenges. Therefore, it is to your

advantage to become familiar with core information resources and the

strategic mindset to conduct information research.

The information technology field is so dynamic and fast-changing that

often what is right today might become obsolete tomorrow . It is therefore

important for business practitioners to continuously explore the latest advances

in the industry and keep up with the changing landscape . It is also

worth noting that , although a great deal of information has been moved to

the digital domain and much business-related research today can be done

through the Internet , there are still significant amounts of information

resources available only in certain formats or only for particular memberships

, organizations , or through libraries . In addition , the phenomenon

of information overload amplifies the serious issues of authenticity , credibility

, and validity of information found on the Web . Once necessary

information is collected and classified , it needs to be evaluated carefully

for its appropriateness before being used in a particular decision-making

context .

The demand for adequate business research skills has come with the

trend toward increased size and complexity of the information available

today . Considering the fact that one of the vital competitive factors for

succeeding in business is speed, the abilities and strategies for accessing

and gathering necessary business information in a timely and effective

manner are crucial for those who want to prosper in their own business or

advance in a company . The driving force behind this book is to assist these

people to obtain such abilities by describing effective business research

and introducing essential business resources.

Key Strategies for Effective Business Research

Generally , business research has the following characteristics that are distinct

from other types of research:

• Problem-oriented . The goal of performing business research

is to obtain the information and data necessary to solve

Introduction to Company and Industry Research 3

a specific business problem, to make a sound decision,

and to identify more profitable alternatives. The act of

locating interesting information about potential customers

or prospective markets is often exciting in itself , but the

execution of such research is questionable if it does not

contribute to improving problem-solving capabilities.

• Time-sensitive. Because business research tends to be done in

a competitive, rapidly changing environment, the timeliness

of information acquisition is critical. Business information

must be provided on a timely basis to ensure that a company ’ s

decision making is based on up-to-date information.

• Cost-effective. Business research can be extremely time

consuming and expensive to conduct depending on what you

are looking for and which resources you are lacking. Cost–

benefit analysis must be applied when faced a situation of

“ making or buying ” necessary information to maximize the

company ’ s profit on investment.

Along with the above characteristics , business research consists of

two distinct areas of research based on the methods of data gathering

and types of information to be searched : One is called primary research

and the other secondary research . Primary research is a research method

to gather data and information directly from nonpublished sources of

your own for your customized purpose . Conducting primary research

can include questionnaires , surveys , interviews with individuals , focus

groups , observations , and field tests . On the other hand , secondary research

is to collect and analyze data that already has been produced and

published by others for another purpose . It involves gathering already

compiled data , studies , reports , and other information from organizations

such as government agencies , trade associations , and research entities

, and putting them together for analysis . While primary research

is often conducted for consumer analysis and product development ,

secondary research is utilized for a wide variety of purposes such as to

analyze target industry segments , identify major players and competitors

within an industry , establish benchmarks , and so forth . This book

is dedicated to discussing and describing secondary research with a particular

focus on company and industry research .

4 COMPANY AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH

New business practitioners who gather information under pressure

with limited time and resources might take shortcuts that can end up

backfiring later . The following strategies will help you avoid common pitfalls

and allow you to get the most out of your research.

• Determine what information to collect and why . The value of

information collected often depends on the preparation and

planning that take place prior to the execution of information

gathering . Too frequently , business research is carried out

without careful consideration being given to what information

needs to be collected and why it is worth being collected . The

purpose of conducting business research is to solve a problem

that a company faces at hand and to make informed decisions .

Therefore , identifying what information and data you need

for solving a problem is the first and foremost step in business

research . Without investing time to adequately understand

the problem to be solved , the research can become challenging

and will often fail to accomplish its purpose . To avoid such

a pitfall , start by articulating exactly what problem you want

to solve , brainstorm the information that you might want to

gather to solve the problem , and list potential resources that

could help you locate the necessary information .

• Develop a research plan and record the research process . Planning

a research project involves assessing problems to be solved,

preparing for the allocation of available resources, identifying

strategies and techniques to be employed in information

gathering, and specifying approaches to analyze the gathered

information. A well-developed, systematic research plan not

only provides a guidepost for the research project that is to be

conducted but also becomes a means of communicating to

others the validity of the research.

Once the planning phase is completed and the research begins

, it is strongly recommended to keep track of the research

process while business research is conducted. Developing a habit

of taking notes will help you when you return later to search for

more information. Always record your research steps, resources of

Introduction to Company and Industry Research 5

information, terms used for keyword searches, and other key factors

of your research using your preferred notetaking system.

• Seek reliable information tenaciously. Performing business

research is time consuming and often requires patience. Those

who are new to systematically conducting business research

tend to quit searching for reliable data once a small piece

of related information is found and easily dismiss the idea

of spending the time to carry on with extensive research.

Using only one resource could leave you in a tight spot when

authenticity of the information source is somehow shaky . Do

not stop your research quest simply because it is too much

work. Keep going down the list of potential resources until

you find trustful information or you recognize a need of

altering the original research plan. Keep in mind that all work

you do on the foundation of inadequate information can

cause a total waste of your time and money .

• Ask research experts . If a research decision critical to your

business requires complicated research or if you get

overwhelmed with complex research tools beyond your

experience , do not hesitate to contact business research

experts and get help from them . Besides professional

researchers , consultants , and statisticians , excellent help can

be found at public and academic libraries . In particular ,

colleges and universities that offer business graduate

programs generally have business librarians whose job is

dedicated to help with diverse business-related research .

They will be happy to lend their expertise to you and point

your research in the right direction .

• Analyze what you found before making decisions . Once the

research is completed and sufficient information is acquired ,

it is important to carefully examine the quality of all of the

gathered information and use selected information to make

a decision . Although the criteria for evaluating information

will vary depending on the nature of the research , the primary

factors that you should be concerned with are authority ( e . g .,

Who produced the information and is it of trustworthy

6 COMPANY AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH

origin ?), credibility ( e . g ., Is the information free from errors

and biases ?), timeliness ( e . g ., When was the information

produced ?), purpose ( e . g ., Why was the information originally

produced and published ?), and relevance ( e . g ., What is the

significance of the information for my business needs ?).

Keep in mind the strategies discussed in this section when you undertake

any kind of business research. The further you get into your business,

the more likely it is that you will need specific detailed information to

meet your particular needs. Although such information can sometimes be

difficult to locate, there are many more reliable resources than you could

possibly imagine. Some of the most powerful research tools, both free and

fee-based, are listed in this book.

CHAPTER 2

Company Research

Quick List of Resources for Company Research

1) Corporate Profiles, Reports, and Analysis

Hoover ’ s

Mergent Online

Mergent Intellect

ReferenceUSA

Thomson ONE

Business Insights: Essentials

LexisNexis Academic

Morningstar Investment Research Center

Standard & Poor ’ s Capital IQ

MarketLine

Value Line Investment Survey

ESG Manager

SEC-EDGAR

Free Web Resources

2) Company Financials

Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios

RMA Annual Statement Studies

Key Considerations When Researching a Company

Unsurprisingly , how you approach company research will differ based on

the type of company you are looking at and the type of information about

the company that you are interested in . Although there are resources that

compile profiles , financials , news , analyses , and much more for a one-stopshop

experience , there are also more specialized resources that focus on