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What to do when your industry is not covered

Often information about the specific industry you want is not available in any sources to which you have access.  Here's what you can do.

Pick a winner.  If you have a choice, pick your industry from those that are big players in the U.S. and world economies (e.g. petroleum or wireless communication rather than fashion accessories or car mufflers).

Get creative.  If the industry you've chosen or the one assigned to you is difficult to research, you may have to fall back on one of the following strategies:

  • Use a larger industry that yours fits into.
  • Give specific examples of how some of the information does and does not fit your industry.
  • Or include a warning that not all information about the larger industry can be generalized to industry subgroups such as the one you are researching.
  • Extrapolate from information about key company players in your industry to formulate your own statements and conclusions about industry trends, key drivers of consumer behavior, important economic factors, etc.
  • Use data and information from a different industry that you feel echoes and reflects important factors at play in your industry. This strategy is risky, in that teachers and others must be convinced that the two are comparable in important aspects.It would require you to construct compelling arguments illustrating important similarities and differences.  (For example, for both your industry and the retail clothing industry, economic downturns that reduce sales of new products may at the same time stimulate sales of used products.  Yet retail clothing may be looking to the "tween" consumer for its biggest profits, whereas your industry may be targeting customers in an entirely different age group or other demographic category.) 


Bess Wood (MBA, AMLS)        Bowling Green State University