UCB Libraries

Feasibility Study Research Guide

  • Research Process

  • Market, Industry, Competitors
  • Consumer Data
  • Articles & More


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 for your analysis.


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


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.


Some topics to consider are:

  • What problem are you attempting to solve?
  • Who are your customers? How do you plan to reach them?
  • What is the market for your product or service? It is growing, stable, or shrinking?
  • Who are your competitors? What sets you apart?
  • What will you need to make this business happen? Suppliers? Employees? Funding?


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 may want 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 let us know, by contacting the library via phone, email, in person, or IM, all of which are listed on the Ask Us page.


Created: 2013 NT

Updated: 9/2014 NT


Market Overview
Frost & Sullivan CU
This database offers market research reports and forecasts. Strong in medical, engineering, biotech, and information & communication technology (ICT) research.
NOTE: Frost & Sullivan requires user sign-in to access the reports, simply enter your first and last name, as well as a valid University of Colorado email address.

Mintel Market Reports CU
This 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 CU students, faculty, and staff with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and create an account using your Colorado.edu email address.


Passport CU

Passport (from Euromonitor, formerly GMID) is great if you need information about international markets as well as the US. Search by company, brand, or country, or browse using one of the abundant dropdown menu options.


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. 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 from the US Census Bureau.


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.



Need some more options for industry data? Check out the industry research guide.



Rankings and Competitors
Business Insights: Global CU

This database provides rankings from Business Rankings Annual and Market Share Reporter.

  • Search by company name or ticker symbol, then look for the "Rankings" and "Market Share Reports" links.
  • For rankings and market share for products or brands, use the Advanced Search function and change "Content Type" to Rankings or Market Share Reports.
Tablebase CU
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 CU

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

One of the interesting new features included in Reference USA is the ability to find companies that have closed (or are suspected of being out of business).


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.




Even More


Need more? Check out the company research guide, the marketing research guide, and the industry research guide.





Mintel Market Reports
Mintel Reports CU
This 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 CU students, faculty, and staff with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and create an account using your Colorado.edu email address.


Local Market Audience Analyst

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 CU


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.


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.


Need More?


You've looked at all the sources above and you still want more data. Don't worry, there's a whole other research guide just for consumer information!




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.

These databases are the best sources for trade publications:


  • Business Source Complete CU covers over 1,200 business periodicals including scholarly, trade, and news sources.

  • Factiva CU 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 CU also provides full-text articles, news transcripts, country economic and political risk reports, and legal cases.

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

NOTE: Think critically about your business idea. In addition to trade groups or industry associations, there may be advocacy groups collecting and publishing information or data about your target customer. For example, if you are interested in a product designed for children with autism, you might find relevant local data and contacts through the Autism Society of Colorado.


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 CU 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


Even More


Sometimes it helps to look at some business plans. Lucky for you, we have a business plans guide that links to the Business Plans Handbook Online and lots of other sources.