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Company and Industry Insight Project Course Guide

Course Number: BU111

Subject: Business

For this assignment, you’ll need to find information that will allow you to formulate and support company and industry insights and make recommendations supported by research. You’ll find that several databases can be used for both industry and company research. The following accordions will give you tips for finding information more efficiently and effectively so you can gain a better understanding of opportunities, challenges, and gaps.

Getting Started

For your assignment, you can choose from the following industries:  

  • family clothing retail stores
  • personal hygiene products 
  • supermarkets and grocery stores 
  • gym and fitness clubs 
  • fast food restaurants 
  • frozen food producers 

One way to get a sense of your industry is to determine your industry designation or classification code. NAICS and SIC are the most common industry classification systems in North America. These classification codes are hierarchical, organized by broad industry categories that are then divided into more specific industries. 

NAICS: North American Industrial Classification System 

SIC: Standard Classification System 

Industry Insight

In order to make recommendations, you need to first understand how the industry operates. For a list of relevant databases, click on the "Where do I find all the information I need?" tab.

Key Success Factors

The essential components and actions needed to guarantee an organization’s success include strategic focus, people, operations, marketing, and finances.

Porter's 5 Forces

Porter’s Five Forces Framework is a method of analysing the competitive landscape of the industry and situating where a company is positioned within the competitive landscape. Not every industry has a ready-made Five Forces analysis available, so you may need to start your search with a related industry or a larger industry, and then evaluate whether the factors apply to your chosen industry. 

Constructing a search can be a slow process of trial and error. To streamline the search process, consider combining an industry or company name with the following sample search terms: 

Bargaining Power of Buyers 

  • (bargain* OR negotiat* OR influenc* OR power) AND (enter actual buyers of product or venture) 
  • (pric* OR cost*) AND (switch* OR sensitive*) 

Bargaining Power of Suppliers 

  • (bargain* OR negotiat* OR influenc* OR power) AND (enter actual suppliers of product or venture) 
  • (pric* OR cost*) AND (switch* OR sensitive*) 

Industry Rivalry (Rivalry among Existing firms) 

  • (marketplace OR compet* OR "market share" OR "market size" OR dominan* OR position* OR segment*) 

Threat of Substitutes 

  • (differentiat* OR unique* OR new OR improv*) 
  • (substitu* OR alternat* OR chang* OR new OR compar* OR unique) 

Barriers to Entry (Threat of New entrants) 

  • (barrier* OR regulat* OR licens* OR tariff* OR restrict* OR trade*) 

This video explains how the sample search terms were constructed. 


PEST (or PESTLE) is an acronym for external factors that affect a company’s success: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental. Complete PEST country analyses can be found in Marketline.  

However, you may find a PEST country analysis that does not contain useful information for you. In that scenario, break up the acronym and search each of the PEST factors individually. See the below guide for additional support on conducting your PEST analysis.

Company Insight

In addition to industry knowledge, you’ll need to understand the history and contexts of your specific company to make strong, thorough recommendations. To do this, you will need to conduct company research. 

When conducting company research, you’ll be looking for information such as company history, financials, comparative ratios, corporate social responsibility, etc. It is much easier to find information on public companies as they must meet stringent reporting requirements outlined by securities regulators. Private companies, on the other hand, are not mandated by securities regulators to publicly disclose their financials and company information. 

For a list of relevant databases, click on the "Where do I find all the information I need?" tab.

How do I know if my company is public or private?

If your company is based in Canada or the US, you can check one of the following websites to see if the company is listed. If not listed, it is most likely a private company. 

Canada: SEDAR 


Another excellent source for public company data is Mergent Online, which covers company filings for over 10 000 publicly traded companies worldwide. 

What if my company is private?

The available information is likely limited to a brief company profile, contact information, names of senior executives, a brief business description, the date of incorporation, and sometime self-reported broad annual sales/revenue estimates. 

Start your search from the company website itself and see what information is shared there.

SWOT Analysis

Part of your analysis will also require information on company Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. 

Where do I find all the information I need?

Industry information can be found in the following databases:

Company information can be found in the following databases:

Other Resources

In addition to the sources listed above, the Business Subject Guide includes more comprehensive pages for Industry and Company databases.

Additionally, you are always welcome to reach out to your subject librarians who are listed in the sidebar. 


Your instructor has provided lab manuals on "How to Cite Your Sources" and "General Guidelines for Formatting References."

In addition to the resources from your instructor, you can see the Laurier Library's guide on Common Citation Styles. York University Libraries also has a very thorough guide specifically for business citations.


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Last Updated: December 19, 2023 11:27am