UCB Libraries

Feasibility Study Research Guide

  • Research Process

  • The Market
  • Articles and More
  • Consumer Data

 

Search Strategy

 

A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need to write your report.

 

  • What types of information will you need in order to understand your category?
  • What might that information look like? Balance sheets? Demographic trends? Competitive analysis?
  • Who might keep track of that information? The Census Bureau? Trade groups? Regulatory agencies?
  • Is the information likely to be freely available or hidden behind a paywall?
  • Is there more than one keyword that could describe the category?

 

Brainstorm as many ideas as you can about these points. Think about where you would search to find answers to these questions. You may want to look at sites that feature customer reviews, such as Yelp! or Amazon.

 

For information on choosing the right keywords and using them effectively, see this guide.

 

 

Using the Library

 

If you do your research away from campus, you'll need to connect through the VPN. Problems with the VPN software should be referred to OIT, the Office of Information Technology.

 

In addition to books and periodicals in print, CU provides access to a huge number of subscription websites, article databases, and ebooks. Finding these resources can be tricky. If you need a refresher on how to find books, journals, articles, or data owned by the Library, see the "How do I...?" pages.

 

Of course you will search the Internet or newspapers for general information, but limiting your search to freely-available sources alone may significantly impact your understanding of the big picture.


 

Research Help

 

Have questions about using RefWorks, the library catalog, or library databases? Feel free to ask me. I'm available for consultation via email or in person by appointment.

Natalia Tingle

natalia.tingle@colorado.edu

(303) 492-3034; Koelbel 200E

Office Hours: Weds. 2-4PM

 

Matt Brower

matthew.brower@colorado.edu

(303) 492-7156; Koelbel 200F

Office Hours: Tues. 1-3PM

 

 

 

 

Market Overview

 

Frost & Sullivan offers market research reports and forecasts. Strong in medical, engineering, biotech, and information & communication technology (ICT) research.

NOTE: Frost & Sullivan may require user sign-in. If the 'Sign In' menu option in the top right corner is activated, you will be prompted to enter your first and last name, as well as a valid University of Colorado email address.

 

Mintel Market Reports database contains information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share dynamics and market drivers. Search by product, lifestyle attribute, or company.

NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and use your Colorado.edu email address for the account.

 

 

Industry Research

 

Industry surveys can be used for information about the current business environment, regulations, developments, and issues that impact companies operating within that industry. For your Category Assignment, a good industry survey will help you become familiar with the key players and brands, the vocabulary, and the overall size of the market.

 

You'll notice that each of the databases above uses different terms to identify the categories. In other words, the vocabulary is not standardized across the databases. A tool to remedy this problem is called NAICS: the North American Industry Classification System.

 

NAICS and its precursor SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) are a means for organizing disparate business into a category about which statistics and data can be collected. You can find out more about both at: www.census.gov/eos/www/naics.

 

As you go through your project, think broadly and creatively about where your target fits. Some industries are too new or too odd to fit into an established category. It doesn't hurt to look at more than one industry survey. Likewise, it is often helpful to think of a similar/competing company or brand and see where that company or brand fits into the classification system.

 

Industry Ratios are often used as benchmarks for business or financial projections. The three sources below are available at the Business Library Circulation Desk.

 

 

Sometimes you can find industry ratios in an industry survey. The two databases below are your best sources for finding industry ratios online.

 

 

Rankings and Competitors

 

Business Insights: Global

Research and analyze companies, industries, and economies around the world.

 

Tablebase

In addition to general "Top 10" lists and brand share rankings, there are hundreds of lists covering a huge range of (sometimes unexpected) topics.

 

Local Business Resources

Reference USA

Search for businesses by name, keyword, location, or industry. Financial information, employees, and operating expenses are listed as available, even for small businesses.

 

Boulder County Business Report: Business news, analysis, data, and statistics for Boulder and Broomfield counties. Access the library's subscription content using the link above for full-text articles, or browse headlines at www.bcbr.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Trade Publications

Trade associations are often the only place to find current statistics or trends for an industry. Trade associations (also called trade groups, industry groups, business associations, etc.) exist at the local, regional, national, or international level. Many trade associations publish newsletters or journals geared toward the members: practitioners in the industry. Trade journals are very useful for learning the vocabulary of an industry, the key players, and current issues or trends.

 

  • Factiva features full-text articles from major world business and financial news sources, company reports, and financial market information. The search interface can be tricky, but the scope of coverage is unmatched.
  •  

  • Lexis Nexis Academic also provides full-text articles, news transcripts, country economic and political risk reports, and legal cases.
  •  

  • Business & Industry has full-text articles from trade and business publications. Good for industry trends, marketing, strategy, operations, and management best practices.

 

 

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are generally internal to the company, while opportunities and threats are external factors. You can find SWOT analyses for most major companies by searching Business Source Complete for "(company name) AND SWOT".

 

 

Google Tricks

 

  • Google Trends

  • Use Google Trends to examine brand or product searches over time. The video below explains how to use this search to evaluate brands.

     

  • Power Searching with Google Quick Reference

  • Some useful examples are:

    • (brand) strategy filetype:ppt
    • (location) population site:gov

 

 

 

Mintel Market Reports

 

Mintel Market Reports database contains information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share, and market drivers. Search by product, lifestyle attribute, or company.

 

Mintel offers two types of reports. You'll find reports about a product or activity (i.e. "Casual Dining - US"), and reports about marketing to a particular group (i.e. "Marketing to Millennials - US"). Each report is presented in the same format and contains demographic data. Many reports have an appendix of "other useful consumer tables." These tables feature demographic data related, but not exactly relevant, to the report topic.

 

NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and use your Colorado.edu email address for the account.

 

 

Local Market Audience Analyst

 

SRDS Online (Available in the Business Library only)

Directories with advertising rates, contact info and circulation/audience audit data for magazines, newspapers, radio stations, Internet sites and marketing list vendors.

 

SRDS Online also provides access to the Local Market Audience Analyst reports, including Market Profile Reports, Lifestyle Analysis Reports, Demographics Reports, and PRIZM Reports.

 

 

Simmons

Simmons is a collection of market data.

For an excellent overview of searching for and interpreting Simmons data, see these videos created by Jill Markgraf, Head of Research and Instruction at the McIntyre Library - University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

The first video explains how to find data about product use in specified demographic groups.
Linked from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6UGzwoyoGU.

 

The second video explains how to interpret the data.
Linked from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3Kl54PJ-m4.

 

 

Government Sources

 

Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers.

 

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau will no longer produce new volumes after this year. To access the most current data, please refer to the organizations cited in the source notes for each table of the Statistical Abstract.

 

American Factfinder is the easiest interface for searching census data, and the best source for freely-available data about the demographic characteristics of the US population.