All the Right Numbers: Strategies for Locating Industry Sales

Article excerpt

"What is the size of the global pharmaceuticals market for the last 10 years?" Do questions such as this sound familiar? Clients and patrons often ask researchers for the total sales of an industry. Sometimes clients or patrons are more interested in sales for the entire industry than in earnings for individual companies.

Why? Because sometimes knowing the total sales for an industry can let businesspersons or students know how lucrative it would be to enter that industry. Total industry sales will reveal whether an industry is in its infancy, or if it has reached a mature, established stage. If businesspersons or students can obtain figures for multiple years, they will know if the industry is growing or stagnating. Forecasts can help requestors decide if they want to invest in companies within a particular industry or even start a company in that industry. Economists use industry sales figures to assess the significance of an industry for overall economic growth. Clients already involved in an industry can divide the industry's total sales by their company's sales to determine market share. And, of course, the size of an industry is an important figure to include in presentations and business plans. For this article, we will define total industry sales as the size of the market, or consumption of a product or service, for a specific geographic region, such as a country, region, or the entire world.

One of the primary challenges of obtaining industry sales is to extract the relevant figures from the huge volume of industry information available (Lavin 368). Many industry sources will mention specific companies in the industry, but still not provide data about the overall size of the industry. By using a careful search strategy, researchers can locate industry figures in relatively commonly available resources such as Datamonitor industry profiles, the Economist Intelligence Unit's Industry Forecasts, Standard & Poor's industry surveys, TableBase, Euromonitor, government resources, trade association Web sites, Investext, and business press. In this article, I do not cover market research reports; though certainly useful sources for tracking industry sales, these reports are often prohibitively more expensive than other sources. In addition, I will only discuss resources and strategies that cover multiple industries, since we want to explore tools that will answer a variety of industry queries.

Researching statistical data on industries is more difficult than locating information on publicly traded companies. When researching an industry, you might find conflicting data from the various sources you consult. With company data, on the other hand, the SEC filings usually constitute the most authoritative sources. In addition, researchers should be aware that industries such as the automobile industry, which is comprised of mostly publicly traded companies, will be easier to research than industries structured around privately held companies, e.g., the highly fragmented art market. In addition, older established industries will have more data available than newer industries.


The ubiquitous Datamonitor industry profiles are available through many sources, such as Dialog, EBSCO's Business Source Premier, Datamonitor's own Web site [], Factiva, OneSource, LexisNexis (the corporate version, not LexisNexis Academic), Westlaw, Bureau van Dijk, and Yahoo Finance. Datamonitor provides industry profiles for major industries such as pharmaceuticals and narrower industries such as functional drinks. Total industry sales and forecasts appear in a consistent format for each report. This consistency is highly valuable, e.g., when examining the oil industry. Datamonitor's June 2005 Global Oil and Gas industry profile measures the oil industry both in dollars and volume (see Figure 1 top right), while other sources only measure the oil industry in millions of barrels of oil per day. …