BA 223: Market Research Guide

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Getting Started

photo of crowded shibuya crossing at night with advertisementsMarket research consists of data you collect yourself (primary research, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations) and secondary research, or research that already exists. To learn more about primary research, search in the library for terms like marketing research or business intelligence to find relevant books and e-books. You'll find recommended sources of secondary research throughout this guide, some only available in library databases and some freely available on the web.

Here is a Google Slideshow with an introduction to these topics.

ReferenceUSA (your best bet for small business info)
Accessing ReferenceUSA through the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

As an LBCC student, you have access to Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's (CBCPL) electronic resources. To use these, you must first have a card from CBCPL. To get a card (if you don't have one already), take your LBCC student ID to the desk at one of the CBCPL libraries and ask for help signing up.

An important business resource from Corvallis Public is ReferenceUSA, which is one of the best sources for information on very small, local, private companies. To get here (once you have your library card), look under the Business & Finance section of CBCPL's E-resources and click the ReferenceUSA link. Use the number on your CBCPL card (not your x number) to log in.

Finding Local Company Information through ReferenceUSA

Once you're logged in, click on the search button for US Businesses. Enter a company name and a city to find the owner, contact information, SIC/NAICS industry codes, expenditures, sales, and more. 

Under Location Information, you can enter a number of miles in Radius Search, and then click on Find Similar to see nearby businesses in the same industry.

Research Consumer Segments in Reference USA
When you're logged into ReferenceUSA, go to U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles, and then go to Advanced Search. 
Use the facets on the side (I suggest starting with the city you're interested in) to limit to your target demographics. 
Click "View Results." This shows you all the people identified who meet the criteria of your search (it's not comprehensive). 
You can go to Summary and identify further facets (age, income, marital status, etc.) you want to compare within your segment. View matrix, chart, or table to analyze the data. Learn more about consumer market research in this guide from ReferenceUSA.

Learn more from the ReferenceUSA Training Guides.
Stuck? Need a definition?

If you're unfamiliar with a marketing term or concept, you might find this Marketing Dictionary from Monash University helpful, or review content in an OER like Principles of Marketing. If you get stuck, reach out to a librarian or an instructor! Sometimes certain information doesn't exist or costs a lot of money--librarians can help you figure out what's available to you as a student.

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Library News Databases (sometimes good info on local orgs)

Find articles about your company and its competitors in regional and local news sources. This may be your best bet for external analysis if you're working with a private company!

The following local papers are available full text for the time period indicated: The Oregonian, 1987 - present; Corvallis Gazette-Times,1999-present; Albany Democrat-Herald, 1999-present

Includes full text coverage from several hundred U.S. and International newspapers as well as regional business publications.
newspapers, computer, coffee on a table

Library Business Databases
The library databases below will give you market share reports, SWOT analyses, and information about consumer groups, industries, and publicly-traded companies. Private companies may be mentioned in industry reports or trade magazines. Be sure to start here to access them, since you have to log in! Often the easiest source to find Market Share for a company. Search by company name, ticker symbol, product or NAICS code and then look for the "Market Share Reports" on the sidebar. Search for a company, consumer type, or industry and choose Market Research Reports under Source Type. Coverage varies greatly by industry and region.
Company Info on the Web

Company websites will likely provide information about a company's mission, goalshistoryproducts, and more. There is likely to be more information about public companies than private companies. Public companies have a unique ticker symbol. They're required to file 10Ks (a summary of a company's performance) with the federal government, and they publish annual reports for investors, which may be on their websites. Information about private companies is probably self-reported.

  • Crunchbase
    Crunchbase is a platform for finding business information about private and public companies, including investments and funding information, founding members and individuals in leadership positions, mergers and acquisitions, news, and industry trends. Create an account for a two week trial of full access.
  • EDGAR Company Filings
    Find 10Ks filed with the government for public companies.
Government Data on the Web
Consumer Trends & Digital Marketing on the Web
Nonprofit Research on the Web
A nonprofit organization's website may provide info like mission, goals, news, and services. Many nonprofits are required to file an IRS Form 990, which provides information about the organization's budget and governance structure. The sources below provide IRS Form 990 and other information on nonprofits:
  • Guidestar. You must sign up for a free account, but then you get access to basic info about charities and their 990 forms.
  • Charity Navigator. The largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities in the United States.
  • ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Use this database to view summaries of tax returns from tax-exempt organizations, financial details such as their executive compensation, and revenue and expenses. You can browse IRS data released since 2013 and access more than 14 million tax filing documents going back as far as 2001.
  • IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search. Find 990s directly from the IRS.
License & Credits

Creative Commons License This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International LicenseStock photos on this page are public domain via Pixabay.