Green - Eco Guide

Welcome to the Green - Eco Guide

Use the navigation to explore four sections designed to help you focus your secondary market research.  

This guide will not only help you to become more efficient with your research time but it will also save you money by directing you to reputable sources to learn about your market.  But first, take a deep breath because secondary market research is a journey and it will require work. The definition of a market can vary from a broad industry to a specific market niche.  Also, the geographic scope of your market may vary across a municipality, a region, a country or the globe. In new or emerging markets there may be very little information or data published so you will have to dig and possibly look at comparable, more established markets. This guide will help you to organize your work and prioritize your research questions. We aim to save you time by directing you to the information you can use to make better business decisions. Feel free to jump into whatever section is most applicable to your business goals now.

 

Categories

Business Models
Natural Resources & Environment

Getting Started

Set The Foundation

  • Read books related to your industry and business planning
  • Review sample business plans for ideas
  • Find capital

Checklist

  • What does a comparable business or marketing plan look like?
  • Are there books about running a business in this industry?
  • What funding or financing opportunities might be available to me?

 

 

 

Find Books

Need Inspiration? Pick Up A Book!

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This section will introduce several "how-to" books on business to help you get started with your research. These books will primarily introduce you to business plan writing. These books will also introduce general business types such as retail and service business models.

Find Books Using Relevant Subject Headings

  • Management -- Environmental aspects.
  • Green products.
  • Green marketing.
  • Green movement -- Economic aspects.
  • Business enterprises -- Environmental aspects.
  • New business enterprises -- Management.
  • Small business -- Management.

Google Books 
Google Books is a search feature offered by Google. It enables users to search the full text of approximately 10 million books that Google has scanned and stored in its digital database. It also offers previews of books that are currently still in print.

Worldcat 
A global catalogue of library collections from various libraries around the world. You can search for books on business planning, new enterprises, start-ups, or your specific industry. You can search for all the locations with copies of a specific item, and then locate the item in a nearby library. In Worldcat, you can also view research articles and other digital content directly online.


Search for an item in libraries near you:
WorldCat.org >>

 

Outlook Online
A search portal to BC's post-secondary and public library collections (93 libraries). 

 

Find Business Plans

Review Sample Plans for Ideas

In the page below you will find examples of successful business plans. Researching your business plan can be a very time-consuming experience, but it is an essential and worthwhile investment. Your business plan will become your most important day to day operating tool. The information resources and strategies in this guide will help you create an effective plan and increase your chances for business success.

Review Sample Plans for Ideas

Most books about starting a business will include examples of business plans, as well as business planning templates. In addition to books, online business resources frequently include sample business plans. Here are a few to get you started.

Business Plans

Bplans.com
This site offers a selection of free sample business plans, as well as articles on business planning. Bplans.com also sells business planning software.

Business Plans Handbook, Gale Publishing
This is a database of actual business plans written by North American entrepreneurs seeking financing for their businesses. Includes examples of many start-up business ideas. Access is available through many BC public libraries, made possible by a generous donation from the Sutherland Foundation. Affiliates of UBC can start here.

  • Organic Cleaning Supplies Business Plan - Green Home Care Solutions
  • Green/Sustainability Consulting Firm Business Plan - Ward & O'Neil LLC

Marketing Plans

Mplans.com
This site provides a selection of free sample marketing plans. Mplans also sells marketing plan building software.

Find Capital

Finding the money that a new business requires is an important step to success. With proper planning and a few resources to guide you on your way, identifying and securing capital to start and grow your business becomes a much smoother and gentler process. Here are a few starting places to help you. 

Find Financing

Find Funding

In this section you will find links to information on funding for your business. No business can function without money to pay for overhead expenses and production or product costs. It is also unusual for a business founder to have the capital to fully fund their business. The sources in this section will help you consider the best source of funding for your business.

Suggestions for Obtaining Capital

With proper planning and a few resources to guide you on your way, identifying and securing capital to start and grow your business becomes a much smoother and gentler process.

There are several ways to secure the capital needed to fund your business:

  • Government Funding: This is money that the government gives you to fund your business, based on your application to the funding grant. There are other types of government assistance you might wish to explore here: Business Grants and Financing.
  • Personal Savings: This involves saving your money from your current employment to invest in your business.
  • Personal Loans: This option means using your personal credit to secure a loan or using your personal credit card for business expenses.
  • Crowdfunding/Micro-Lending: Crowdfunding and micro-lending are both alternative ways of raising capital that involve having large groups of people pre-buy your product before it is launched or loan you small amounts that you can then use to finance your business.
  • Private Financing/Equity Financing: This types of financing come in the form of loans from banks or individuals. It is obtained through your business’ credit availability or through providing equity in your business in exchange for money. This financing involves going into debt or giving up some control of your business.

Need More?

Funding & Financing Page

Check out this page in the Learn Business Basics section of our site to review a growing list of different ways to raise capital for Canadian businesses. It has many funding resources to explore that fall into the categories above, and well as sections with opportunities specifically for Indigenous, women, and youth entrepreneurs, as well as regional funding opportunities.

Find Industry Info

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  • Find information specific to your industry to help you succeed
  • Write your industry overview
  • Start your market analysis

Checklist

  • What are NAICS or SIC codes for the green industry?
  • What are the risks, trends, opportunities and outlooks for the green industry?
  • What is the forecast for the Canadian green industry?What trade associations, magazines, agencies and websites are connected with the green industry?
  • Have there been regulatory or technological changes in the green industry that could affect my business?

Tip: Make a note of any questions you have, the resources in this section can help you answer these and complete the checklist. For more help, check out our Business Research Basic guide.

Industry Codes

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

At the start of your research, it may not be clear what specific industry you should be examining. A good strategy is to find out if your business idea is classified in an industrial classification system. These systems organize industries by assigning them a numeric code. The most commonly used system is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  Once you know your Industry Classification Code you can use this number to:

  • Find industry-specific statistics on government websites or in library databases
  • Generate lists of competitors in company directories

Another common classification system is the Standard Industry Code (SIC). NAICS have most replaced the SIC, but the SIC is still used by some commercial databases. Finding and using these classification systems to effectively search can be tricky, so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help.

Note: NAICS / SIC codes do not identify whether a business is 'Green' or not, but can be useful in researching the specific industry that your green business operates within. Here are a few examples of how NAICS codes relate to specific industries.

Try These

Type Code Description
NAICS 31-33 Manufacturing
NAICS 3371 Household and Institutional Furniture and Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturing
NAICS 337126 Household Furniture (except Wood and Upholstered) Manufacturing
NAICS 44-45 Retail Trade
NAICS 4452 Specialty Food Stores
NAICS 445230 Fruit and Vegetable Markets
SIC 5812 Eating Places

»Search or browse all NAICS or SIC codes on the NAICS Association website. Some NAICS codes are different in Canada, you can search by keyword or browse Canadian NAICS codes at Statistics Canada or Canadian Industry Statistics. To search for a SIC code using a NAICS code and vice-versa use the NAICS & SIC Crosswalks.   

For more information about planning your industry research and industry codes, check out the video tutorial for Module 3: Planning Your Industry Research.

Library Databases

The Expensive World Of Business Information

Believe it or not, you cannot find everything in Google! Have you ever done an online search and found the perfect industry report only to find that it costs over 5K? Did you know that libraries pay for many expensive databases that could be helpful in your secondary market research? Search engines like Google can only provide direct access to freely available information. Most of the web, including business information, lives in databases behind expensive paywalls. This paywall protected section of the internet is known as the deep web. Fortunately, some libraries pay to subscribe to databases so they can provide free access to their patrons - and many business databases can contain useful information such as articles, market research, and company reports.

There are several strategies you can use to access relevant business information on the deep web. First, we urge you to look up what business resources your local public or academic library can provide access to. Each database has its own arrangement, with unique interfaces and search features. It helps to know the structure and search terms of the specific database you are working with in order to retrieve effective results. Also, it is important to know that library databases are restricted by specific usage agreements. It can help to consult with a librarian if you have trouble navigating a specific database. They may also be able to help you find comparable information elsewhere. Libraries with robust business collections might also have useful e-books, directories and trade journals. As you conduct your secondary market research you will likely need to consult both free and deep web resources.

For more information about how and why to use business databases, check out our video tutorial, Module Four: Conducting Your Industry Research.

Business Resources at Academic Libraries 

Colleges and Universities with business programs will have useful business collections you may be able to get access to through their academic library. Often these academic libraries can provide the general public with access to their collections, which include electronic resources like databases and e-books. For example, they could have alumni or community cards, and can provide temporary "guest" passes in certain situations. Contact your local college or university library to see what they can provide. Please note: you probably will not get access to their electronic resources with remote access.

Databases For Industry Research

ABI/INFORM Collection

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Created by ProQuest this database contains full-text articles from over 1,000 business magazines and journals that track business conditions, trends, management techniques, corporate strategies, and industry-specific topics.

  • Parris, D. L., & McInnis-Bowers, C. (2014). Social entrepreneurship questioning the status quo: Waste as a resource. Journal of Economic Issues, 48(2), 359-365.

"Through examining the case of Clean the World, a social enterprise, we demonstrate that not all social ventures start with the intention of creating social value, but with the question: How can I make a profit?"

  • Schaefer, K., Corner, P. D., & Kearins, K. (2015). Social, environmental and sustainable entrepreneurship research: What is needed for sustainability-as-flourishing? Organization & Environment, 28(4), 394.

"What process of socioeconomic transformation might move humanity towards sustainability-as-flourishing, an ideal view of sustainability where life flourishes indefinitely on Earth? We suggest entrepreneurship as one such process and review the literature on three types of entrepreneurship said to transform society by creating value beyond profit: social, environmental and sustainable entrepreneurship."

Business Source Ultimate

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Includes financial data, books, videos, company profiles, SWOT analyses, industry profiles, country reports, market research reports and case studies.  Also includes information on industry trends, forecasts, outlooks, competitors, how to run a specific business and much more.

  • Souto, Jaime E., and Angel Rodriguez. 2015. "The problems of environmentally involved firms: innovation obstacles and essential issues in the achievement of environmental innovation." Journal Of Cleaner Production 101, 49-58.

"...the study of the factors that hinder the achievement of environmental innovations has been largely neglected. This paper focuses on the obstacles facing firms involved in environmental innovations and how they still manage to achieve these innovations."

  • VanWynsberghe, Robert. 2016. "Green jobs for the disadvantaged: an analysis of government policies in British Columbia." Journal Of Environmental Planning & Management 59, no. 4: 730-745.

"The research questions are related to how policy instruments can support green jobs and how green jobs can support the disadvantaged. These questions are asked in the context of the province of British Columbia in Canada, with implications for the global economy. Findings indicate that green jobs policies have direct and indirect effects on the growth of sustainable industries at a municipal level."

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

Provides access to general and specialized business information, current events, and reference materials, including popular and academic journals. Excellent for tracking trends for your specific product or industry.

  • Aarts, D. (2010, December). Sustainability for the stingy. Profit, 29(6), 31-32.

"Perhaps the main obstacle to the widespread adoption of green products is the upfront cost, which is often higher than for a less-green counterpart. Despite the noblest of intentions, many consumers bristle at paying more for, say, compact fluorescent light bulbs; and the more expensive the item, the greater the barrier to adoption."

  • Gerlsbeck, R. (2010, August). Getting green. Canadian Grocer, 124(6), 15,17-19, 21-22.

"Walmart Canada's susta inability program is ambitious. And company president David Cheesewright doesn't mind sharing it with competitors."

Canadian Newsstream

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Newsstream

Provides full-text access to many Canadian national and regional newspapers. Content is updated daily, following a two-day embargo period. Some content dates back to 1985. You can easily set up an article alert service and receive email updates on your search results. All you need to do is complete your search and click on the Save search/alert link near the top of your results. Provide your email address and then set the notification frequency and you're good to go! Try searching your industry, track information on your competitors or any other topic of your choice.

  • Paddon, N. (2016, Mar 28). The ins and outs of going green in business. The Spectator.

"Speakers from KPMG, HP Canada and other organizations will touch on how companies can figure out their social and environmental return on investment, communicate better with both consumers and stakeholders and learn regulations around sustainability messaging to avoid 'greenwashing.'"

  • Krishnan, M. (2011, April 20). Creating a green future with Cool Drinks. North Shore News, 30.

"We all know there are plenty of ways to go green, but sometimes we need a little help taking action. That's where Cool North Shore comes in. The non-profit organization is dedicated to finding ways to reduce the community's carbon footprint, and that includes hosting monthly Cool Drinks discussions that focus on practical ways of becoming more eco-friendly. This month's talk is all about green entrepreneurship..."

UBC Library Business Databases

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you may have access to business databases through the David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons through the links below.

Full Listing By Title or Full Listing By Subject

There are two different ways to identify databases, use 'by title' if you already know the name. Otherwise, you can use the list 'by subject' to find starting places for doing market research, finding articles or researching companies. To learn more about how you can access library resources if you are a community user or temporary visitor check out the UBC Library Community Users & Visitors Guide. Community users and temporary visitors may have additional access restrictions to specific databases because of license agreements.

Provincial Library Database Partners

How to access:Check out the database list and note the License Participants to find out which institutions have access. Otherwise, contact your local post-secondary library to see what they offer.

BC Electronic Library Network (ELN) Research Databases

ELN licenses databases with partner academic libraries. These include LexisNexis, Canadian Newstand, Hoovers, CBCA Business, ABI/INFORM Complete and others that may be of interest to business researchers.

First Research Industry Profiles

How to access: If you are UBC student, staff, or faculty you can access many of these reports through ABI/INFORM.

Covers over 900 industry segments. Updated on a quarterly basis, these industry profiles contain critical analysis, statistics and forecasts to help you engage key prospects, coach key clients, and deepen customer relationships. You can search for reports by NAICS, SIC or keyword or browse by category.

Associations & Magazines

In this section we have gathered some of the most popular information sources, such as trade journals, magazines, blogs, and association websites. Industry information is always changing. For the latest news, current issues and popular opinions, try following one or more of these sources. In addition, interacting with the websites that provide this information through commenting and asking questions may also provide you with more information.

Associations 

Trade associations often publish free industry newsletters that are excellent sources of information for your business plan. Such newsletters often have articles that cover in-depth topics on business management, manufacturing practices, how-tos, and current industry news.

The BCEIA offers a diverse range of expert knowledge on the business of minimizing, mitigating and defending shared human and natural environments from human activity.

The GLOBE Foundation is a Vancouver-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding practical business-oriented solutions to the world's environmental problems.

BCSEA partners with government, community, business and academic groups to promote the research, development and implementation of low-carbon technologies in British Columbia.

CAN is composed of member organizations committed to: preventing dangerous levels of human interference with the global climate system, protecting environmental sustainability and public health, and upholding principles of just transition, equity and social justice.

The NBS is a network of academic and business leaders organized by the Ivey Business School in London, Ontario. They produce resources on incorporating sustainability into office culture and business practices.

Magazines & Trade Journals

Trade journals (often called magazines or trade publications) can be very useful in helping you find current articles relating to business research. Contact your local research library to determine which trade journal subscriptions they have. There are also free trade publications that you can access online. 

  • GreenMoney Journal

    A publication that encourages and promotes the awareness of socially & environmentally responsible business, investing and consumption.

  • GreenBiz

"GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business."

Canadian academic journal that publishes articles on the relationship between environmental issues and society. Focused on articles that are accesible to a wide audience and feature both theoretical and practical work.

A monthly newsletter featuring comprehensive, practical information related to sustainable building. Topics covered range from energy efficiency and recycled-content materials to land-use planning and indoor air quality.

 

Key Websites

In this section we have gathered some of the most reliable freely available online government and employment websites for you to use in your research.

Canadian Websites

BC Stats Current reports and statistics from British Columbia's central statistical agency including labour market information, economic statistics and bankruptcies. Start by searching their Industry section and narrowing by industry type or go to the Business, Industry & Trade page to skim all the different business-related topics.

WorkBC | Find current employment outlooks, labour market information, relevant links, and a geographic representation of the BC workforce. Start by searching your Industry Profile.

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada
Provides market research, industry statistics, licensing information for intellectual property, and information about doing business internationally. The Industry Canada site features interactive applications such as customizable trade reports, cost calculators, and online business planning guides. You can also search broad Canadian industry statistics.

The SME Sustainable Roadmap provides guidelines on setting up and running a sustainable business. It covers a wide range of subjects a sustainable enterprise should consider such as social sustainability, green product development and measuring environmental impact.

The Daily - Statistics Canada
The premier source for Canadian statistical information, including census information. Search 'The Daily' releases by subject to identify corresponding census tables, latest news, and publications. Similarly, you can browse by data source, including surveys & questionnaires relevant to your market research, which also link to census tables, latest news and publications.

"The articles published in EnviroStats use statistics to illustrate topical environmental issues. The publication is intended for a general readership rather than an expert audience."

"Human Activity and the Environment (16-201-X) is an annual publication that focuses on a current environmental issue. The latest information and statistics are gathered from many sources to produce an in-depth analytical article."

Job Bank - Government of Canada
The leading source for labour market information. The site is designed to assist individuals who are searching for work or looking to make career decisions but can also be useful to gage employment trends in an industry. Try using their search portal to explore careers by occupation or review the latest job market trends in your industry. 

US & International Websites

Small Business Administration: Free Small Business Data
This site is created and managed by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and provides a list of free sources of information that you can use to obtain data about markets in the US.

"From changing a light bulb and using recyclable products to installing energy efficient equipment and systems, every business can make simple changes that save energy costs and natural resources. The following resources will help you Green Your Business!"

An index of databases focused on green business case studies around the United States.

Career InfoNet
A good way to research trends in the US labour market. Provides detailed labour information by state.

Resource focused on helping businesses hire, train and retain employees. Also allows businesses to research job market trends.

HighBeam Business: Industry Reports
These industry reports provide statistics, trends, market analysis, and industry news on a wide range of industries. HighBeam Business is operated by The Gale Group, a well-known and respected publisher of reference directories and databases for libraries and academia, and it is part of the larger information and publishing firm Cengage Learning.

MarketWatch - Industry Analyzer
The Industries section contains current data on Dow Jones Industry Sectors. Aggregate data as well as company-specific data is available.

Reportlinker.com
ReportLinker is a professional search engine which gives you access to an exclusive database of 1.2 million market reports and counting. Use this search engine to find official Industry reports, Company profiles and Market Statistics. Please note: information listed on this website may be very expensive but it may be possible to get access to specific reports elsewhere.

A plan by Metro Vancouver on ways to improve their recycling program. This includes opportunities to partner with businesses to create opportunities for improved recycling.

Vault Industry Profiles
A free source of industry information. Use the Industry Profiles to research news, company information, and industry-specific sample professions. Basic monthly membership is free and offers access to blogs, discussion forums, and job listings.

News & Blogs

In this section we have gathered some of the most popular information sources, such as news, blogs, discussion forums and other informal resources. Industry information is always changing - for the latest news, current issues and popular opinions - try following one or more of these sources. In addition, news, blogs and forums usually give you the opportunity to join the conversation, either by posting comments, questions or opinions of your own. 

Blogs

Green Business

A news and information resource about global green business. Includes articles on current green business news and steps to starting a green business.

"One of our goals here at Green Business is to offer ideas to our readers to help them start their own green business.  Another excellent example of a green business is a green janitorial service, maybe even cleaning LEED certified buildings."

Eco-Business

This blog covers news on a wide range of eco-business stories from around the world. It features a diverse range of content written by business and environmental experts from a number of fields.

"Along with the global growth of the industry, eco-tourism has also been soaring in popularity. In a study of the travel industry last year, consulting firm Deloitte found that the number of travellers who are aware of the sustainable travel issues and the willingness of these travellers to spend on environmentally-friendly travel have increased by a third in the last decade."

Green Business Network

This blog covers news on green businesses in the United States. It also hosts forums and discussions for its members.

News Sources

CanadaNewsWire
A free news database that is searchable by company name, keyword, or industry sector.

NewsLink
Links to local and international news source websites. Provides access to both current and archived news stories, which allows you to track trends over time.

YAHOO! Finance Canada
Excellent source for current Canadian business news. The website also features an extensive business news archive section.


Newspapers and News Sources - UBC Library Research Guide

How to access: The guide can be viewed through the link below. Individual resources and databases will have different access requirements.

UBC Library has an excellent collection of current and historical newspapers from B.C., Canada, and around the world. UBC affiliates will have access to these resources.

Regulations

Learn More About Compliance Issues

When it comes to starting a business, one of the first decisions you need to make is the legal structure of your business - sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited company. You'll also need to register your business and you'll need to be aware of many municipal, provincial or federal regulations. The websites in this section will help you.

Ministry of Environment
Responsible for ensuring the sustainable development of British Columbia's land and water resources while protecting environmental values.

"Together, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations administer a suite of regulatory requirements aimed at protecting human health, the environment, and public safety."

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
The CSA is a not-for-profit membership-based association that serves business, industry, government, and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace. The CSA develops standards that enhance public safety and health.

"As part of our commitment to create a more sustainable world, CSA Group can provide you the CSA sustainability mark. The CSA sustainability mark tells retailers, regulators, and consumers that your product has met defined environmental performance requirements and corporate responsibility requirements as outlined in CSA Group sustainability standards."

General Business Resources

Small Business BC (SBBC)
SBBC is a great place to start for information on BC specific regulations and guidelines, for whatever stage you are in your business development. This is a great post on the topic.

BizPaL
This is the one-stop website to assist Canadian businesses that are just starting up, or expanding into new areas. BizPaL asks you a short series of questions about the nature and scope of your current or proposed business. Based on your answers, BizPaL provides you with a customized list of government permits and licences that you may require to operate your business. All of the information that you provide is kept anonymous, and you may save or print your results for future reference.

Canada Revenue Agency - Business
This section of the Canadian federal tax agency's website contains important taxation and documentation requirements that businesses operating in Canada must adhere to.

The Province of British Columbia
Provides information on programs and resources available to small business owners in British Columbia. Includes information on taxes and industry regulations. Start with the Permits, Licences & Registrations section.

 

Find Competitive Info

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  • Gather and analyze competitive information
  • Define your competitive edge
  • Use benchmarking tools to create your financial analysis
  • Find competitor information for your own organizational plan

Checklist

  • Who are my direct or indirect competitors? Where are they located?
  • Who are the leading companies in the BC Green-Eco industry and what can I learn from them (e.g., what were their revenues)?
  • Are my competitors publicly traded and would their financial filings help me plan my own business?
  • What are my competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how can I add unique value?
  • Has there been any news coverage on my competitors announcing a new product, marketing strategy or personnel changes that can provide insight into my business planning?

Tip: Make a note of any questions you have, the resources in this section can help you answer these and complete the checklist. For more help, check out our guide to competitive analysis.

 

Tips On Company Research

Company Research Tips

An in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitors' strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace, and to implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. Here are some research strategies for doing your competitive analysis:

  • Company directories can be used to create lists of competitors by industry, product line, size, etc.
  • Doing a company name search in a general research database is an excellent way to learn more about your competitor’s products, services, prices, and media coverage.
  • If your competitors are public companies, learn more about them by reading their financials and annual reports.
  • News archives provide a range of competitive information on both public and private companies.
  • Patents are a good way to learn about the technical and design features of a competitor's products. You can refer to this UBC Library Research Guide, created by UBC Engineering Librarians, if you are looking for patent information. Most of the resources listed are freely available.

For information on primary and secondary market research, as well as common sources for secondary market research, watch our video tutorial Module One: Introduction To Market Research.

Finding information on public companies is considerably easier than finding information on privately-held companies. Information on public companies is readily available online, or at your local library. Another good starting point is the list of resources in the next section of this Accelerator Guide: Find Competitors. Unlike public companies, private companies are not required to file with the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR). Searching for private company information is considerably more difficult and will require a lot of patience, and a healthy dose of creativity. 

Find Competitors

Learning About Competitors

To create a list of competitors and find basic information about them (e.g. number of employees, contact information) you will need to consult business directories. Many directories are available online for free, while others are fee-based commercial databases. You can find directories that are particular to an industry or geography. Your local library will likely have a good collection of directories that you can consult in person.

For further information about secondary market research, see our video tutorial Module Two: Secondary Market Research for Industry Analysis.

If you know of some public companies in your industry than annual reports can provide a great deal of useful financial information including sales volume, revenue increases, and total market share. You can search the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) for Canadian Company filings. If the competitor you are researching does business in the USA than you search the Security and Exchange Commissions equivalent, EDGAR, which provides free public access to corporate information including financial information and operations by reviewing registration statements, prospectuses and periodic reports filed on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. You also can find information about recent corporate events reported on Form 8-K that a company does not have to disclose to investors. You can use advanced search features to search by Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes.

Free Business Directories

Canadian Companies Capabilities
This Industry Canada database has over 60,000 Canadian businesses. You can search within specialized directories for aboriginal businesses, women-owned businesses or specific industries such as computer services or apparel. The business profiles contain comprehensive information on contacts, products, services, trade experience, and technology.

Frasers
A comprehensive industrial directory and search tool, with information on products and services provided by Canadian industrial wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors. You can search by product name, company name, or brand name.

"From brand name remanufactured, pre-owned workstations and seating we complete every project providing ergonomic features, cable and power management."

"Quality New, Used & Refurbished Office Furniture"

"Puresource is a leading national distributor and manufacturer of natural wellness products across Canada. We supply over 150 brands representing over 4000+ products primarily into the independent health food channel as well as mass grocery and drug store retailers."

CanadaOne - Canadian Business Directory
CanadaOne has a directory of over 20,000 Canadian businesses.

ThomasNet
A listing of manufacturers in the US and Canada. Includes links to product catalogs.An excellent free source to research your competitors or find suppliers.

"Furniture repair & refinishing supplies. Services include furniture refinishing with patent- pending waterborne finishes that are odorless, non toxic, inflammable & environmentally safe, furniture reupholstery, TV armoire modification & remanufacturing for reuse with widescreen television sets & custom design options with granite & fabric selections."

"Distributor of citrus acid-based cleaners. Products are environmentally safe and biodegradable with non-reactive feature."

Federal Corporations Data Online 
Free searchable database of federally incorporated/registered companies.

Hoovers
Provides information on 18 million US and international companies, both public and private. Hoover's reports are generated quickly, and are easy to read. A fair amount of information is provided for free, but much more is available with a paid subscription. If you know the company name or ticker symbol of any of the key players in your industry, try searching for their Hoover records to find key information. Use the link above for free information or contact your local library to see if they provide access. Affiliates of UBC may have access

  • SunOpta Inc

"SunOpta seeks to shine in several industries. The company, through SunOpta Foods Group, sources, processes, and packages natural and organic food products."

  • Canyon Creek Food Company Ltd

"Canyon Creek Food Company manufactures and sells a variety of prepared-foods to grocery, food service, and institutional customers throughout Canada. Through its Canyon Creek Soup subsidiary, Canyon Creek initially focused on fresh soups, gravies, and sauces, but the company has since added a variety of sides, salads, and entrées to its menu. Its line of Big Joe entrees includes chili, lasagna, and macaroni and cheese. The company is also certified to produce organic soups and entrees."

bc211 - The Red Book Online A searchable directory of community resources serving the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast regional districts. Search by service-type.

Canadian Trade Index
Canadian Industry Suppliers and their Products (Manufacturers, Exporters, Distribution and Service companies)

"Our mission is to help families in Calgary have nutritious and healthy family meals, every day of the week. We bring you convenient and affordable access to meals prepared from certified organic, local and natural sources."

"Organic and natural dry, frozen, and chill foods, natural household products"

Proprietary Business Directories

Business in Vancouver, Book of Lists
Comprehensive collection of BC business data compiled annually as the popular BIV Book of Lists. Provides data on over 1000 companies including: websites, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, top executives' names, company age, revenues, profits and much more. UBC affiliates and in-person community researchers can obtain access to a print version (here are details on how to locate it) or you can get your own online subscription

The Blue Book of Canadian Business
Detailed profiles for over 60 Canadian corporations, including missions/values, history, operations, social responsibility and executive biographies. Also contains directory type information for 2,500 Canadian companies, a ranking of the top 500 companies and a list of the top 400 Canadian stocks. UBC affiliates and in-person community researchers can obtain access to a print version of this periodical (here are details on how to locate it at UBC in Vancouver).

Reference Canada
Provides information on more than one million businesses throughout Canada. Includes name, address, phone number, contacts, number of employees, annual sales volumes, line of business, and credit rating. Vancouver Public Library subscribes to this online directory so check with your local library about access.

UBC Library Business Databases

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you may have access to business databases through the David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons through the links below.

Full Listing By Title or Full Listing By Subject

There are two different ways to identify databases, use 'by title' if you already know the name. Otherwise, you can use the list 'by subject' to find starting places for doing market research, finding articles or researching companies. To learn more about how you can access library resources if you are a community user or temporary visitor check out the UBC Library Community Users & Visitors Guide. Community users and temporary visitors may have additional access restrictions to specific databases because of license agreements.

Mergent Online

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Provides access to US and international public company data. This database also contains data on companies that were acquired, went bankrupt, liquidated or merged out of existence from 1995 forward. Users can compare companies and export data into programs like Excel.  

Mapping Competitors

Online maps such as Google Maps or Bing Maps  and popular directories such as Yelp are a fast way to locate nearby competitors, and to get a better sense of the region your business operates within. Try searching for the name of your product or industry and narrowing your results by focusing the map on a specific location, such as a city or neighborhood.

SimplyAnalytics

This is an Internet-based mapping application that enables users to develop interactive thematic maps and reports using thousands of demographic, business, and marketing data variables. Check your local public or academic library for access. UBC affiliates can learn more and get access.

Trade Shows

Attending trade shows is an excellent way to learn more about your competitors. Contact local associations or read trade publications to find out what trade shows are coming to your community.

Canadian Environmental Conference and Tradeshow (CANECT)

The largest conference in Canada on environmental products and services. Offers opportunities to connect with similar businesses, attend training siminars and meet environmental product suppliers.

Canadian Green Building Council (CBBC) Conference

This conference is hosted by the Canadian Green Building Council and covers green building trends through out Canada. It features presentations on latest trends, offers opportunities to connect with similar businesses and meet suppliers.

10Times.com
The largest worldwide online directory of trade fairs, business exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, and seminars for various industries. Search for trade shows by industry, country, date, organizer, or venue.

TSNN.com
Online directory of trade shows, exhibitions, public events, conferences and seminars.  Please note: free registration required.

Find Financial Benchmarks

One thing you will need to do in the financials section of your business plan is discuss how you will price your products and/or services, and how this compares to your competitors. You will need to develop a financial plan that includes your projected revenues and net income. The following resources will help you find financial information on competitors in your industry.

Free Tools For Finding Financial Info

SEDAR
A collection of corporate filings that are required by securities regulators, from companies operating in Canada. This website is an excellent source for information about a company's plans, competitive environment, markets, products, and assets. SEDAR is the Canadian equivalent of EDGAR.

EDGAR
Filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission by companies listed on US exchanges. 10-K Formsinclude detailed information on company history, structure, financial statements, and other relevant data.

Finding Benchmarks & Ratios

Financial Performance Data (formerly SME Benchmarking Tool)
Tool for benchmarking your financial reports with others in your sector. Website also includes a collection of financial data and annual reports of various Canadian companies. For instructions on using the Financial Performance Data click here. To create a report using Financial Performance data click here.

Financial Performance Indicators for Canadian Business
Offers current financial ratios by industry, based on data provided by Statistics Canada. The indicators are designed to serve as financial performance benchmarks against which individual firms and industries can be compared. Affiliates of UBC, UNBC, UVic and SFU have access through Abacus Dataverse. If you are visiting, please contact your local library about access.

Proprietary Tools For Finding Financial Info

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

LexisNexis Academic
Provides access to business and financial news, US and international company financial information, market research, industry reports, and actual SEC filings. Search features permit comparison of companies based on criteria such as sales, income, and number of employees. Follow the 'Business' link to find company annual reports, financial, and credit reports. Check your local library to see if they provide access. 

Mergent Online

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Provides access to US and international public company data. This database also contains data on companies that were acquired, went bankrupt, liquidated or merged out of existence from 1995 forward. Users can compare companies and export data into programs like Excel.  

Tools For Calculating Your Own Financials

Market Share & Size

Both market size and market share held by competitors are key factors when assessing the competitive environment. Keep in mind that there is no single source of market size and market share data. Market information is usually pieced together from various sources and is not often readily available for niche or emerging industries. One strategy is to combine a competitor's name or a comparable, established industry with the term market share in article databases or read market research reports. You will need to identify and describe your market – who your customers are and what the demand is for your products and services.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

ABI/INFORM Collection

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Created by ProQuest this database contains full-text articles from over 1,000 business magazines and journals that track business conditions, trends, management techniques, corporate strategies, and industry-specific topics.

  • Coco taps; coco taps launches organic certified tapped coconuts in retail health markets. (2016). Economics Week, , 341.

"Coco Taps, a coconut water beverage system company, announced that it received an organic certification for its fresh coconuts from California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), the leading organic certifier in North America. Coco Taps is the first beverage company in history to sell tapped, resealable unpasteurized water, directly from the coconut, that is certified organic."

Business Source Ultimate

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Includes financial data, books, videos, company profiles, SWOT analyses, industry profiles, country reports, market research reports and case studies.  Also includes information on industry trends, forecasts, outlooks, competitors, how to run a specific business and much more.

  • Hodnett, Cindy. 2016. "Upholstery players pull out all the stops." Furniture/Today 40, no. 33: 134-136.

"The article discusses the product marketing strategies employed by upholstery at High Point Market, a trade show of the furniture industry, held in High Point, North Carolina in April 2016. It presents the views of Jeff Scheffer, chief executive officer (CEO) of Universal Furniture, for the same. It also informs about the upholstery line from Universal including the Palmer sectional, the Corbin chair and the Brownwyn sofa."

eMarketer

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Or, contact your local public or academic library for their access details.

Global market research and trend analysis database that focuses on Internet, e-business, online marketing, media, and emerging technologies.

  • Furniture Shoppers Head In-Store to Decorate: Furniture and home furnishings shoppers still rely on stores

"Digital is having an impact on the furniture and
 home goods category, but shoppers are still very store-centric. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey from September 2014, the leading research-to-purchase path for US internet users shopping for furniture and homewares was store-only, cited by 44%."

Market Share Reporter

Annual compilation of international market share data on selected companies, products, and services. Helpful tip: Use the back-of-book indexes to look up products, services, brands, and companies. If you are searching for information specific to a certain country, be sure to check the table title.

UBC Library Business Databases

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you may have access to business databases through the David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons through the links below.

Full Listing By Title or Full Listing By Subject

There are two different ways to identify databases, use 'by title' if you already know the name. Otherwise, you can use the list 'by subject' to find starting places for doing market research, finding articles or researching companies. To learn more about how you can access library resources if you are a community user or temporary visitor check out the UBC Library Community Users & Visitors Guide. Community users and temporary visitors may have additional access restrictions to specific databases because of license agreements.

Try Primary Research

Try Primary Research

The main point of this guide is to introduce you to a wide range of secondary market research resources but keep in mind there is great value in analyzing other information including:

  • Advertising, blogs and sales brochures
  • Your personal network and employees
  • Direct observation and interviews

 

 

Find Customer Info

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Conduct Your Customer Research

  • Create your customer analysis
  • Identify your target customers
  • Demonstrate how your products and services satisfy your customers' needs

Checklist

  • Who is going to buy my services (e.g., homeowners, or...)?
  • What is the future outlook of my target market (e.g. organic produce forecast)?
  • What do people spend on sustainable or green goods and services?
  • What to people spend on my product (e.g. food, furniture, cleaning services, etc.) 
  • What is demographic data and how can it help me research my customers?

Tip: Make a note of any questions you have, the resources in this section can help you answer these and complete the checklist. For more help, check out our guide to business research basics.

Demographic Data

The resources listed in this section will help you identify population characteristics, and help you develop your customer profile. This research will also help you identify geographic areas where the largest number of your potential customers live. This can be very useful when determining a location for your business, and also when formulating your marketing strategy. Don't forget that trade associations and trade journals collect information about customers and can be great information sources for this area of your research.

Community Information Database (CID) - Government of Canada’s Rural Secretariat
The Community Information Database (CID) is a free internet-based resource that provides access to socio-economic and demographic data for all communities across Canada. Sample data includes: population, education, income, employment, families, and much more. The CID also includes an interactive map for displaying and accessing data. Learn more in the FAQs and the Community Information Database (CID) Tutorials

2017 Canadian Household Spending  - Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada is the national statistical office. The agency ensures Canadians have the key information on Canada's economy, society and environment that they require to function effectively as citizens and decision makers.

This table provides statistical information about household expenditures by Canadians broken down into a variety of categories. You can refine the table by region. You can view the full list of data tables from the 2016 census here

Census Profile - Statistics Canada
Provides Canadian community profiles from the latest Census of Canada. These profiles are very useful for comparing statistics on different municipalities or regional districts. Includes details on family characteristics, primary language, mobility, educational attainment, marital status, labour force activity, earnings, and mode of transportation to work.

Find latest data from the 2016 Census

Search type

 

Thanks to Catie Sahadath at the University of Ottawa Libraries for building this widget.

 

Market Research Handbook - Statistics Canada
A comprehensive source of socio-economic statistics. Data includes profiles of key industries, including the small business sector, as well as of consumers in all the provinces and in 45 major cities across Canada. Also includes information on international trade data, households, families, and selected economic indicators. The Market Research Handbook was published annually until 2008 but is now discontinued. A copy of the 2008 version in PDF format is available on their website.

Socio-Economic Profiles - BC Stats
The socio-economic profiles consist of charts and tables for the various regional districts, health areas, college regions and school districts. Each region contains a map, demographic profile, economic hardship, labour market structure, education concerns, crime, health problems, children at risk, and youth at risk. The profiles are presented in a format that allows comparison to other regions in the province and to BC overall.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

PCensus
Provides access to detailed Canadian demographic information including population, income, and spending levels by province, city, or postal code. PCensus can also generate custom reports using Census data. Contact Vancouver Public Library or your local research library to obtain access.

Your Target Market

British Columbia Survey of Household Spending 2010 (xls)
The data from this release came from the 2009 Survey of Household Spending conducted by Statistics Canada. The Survey of Household Spending is carried out annually across Canada in ten provinces. The purpose of this survey is to obtain information about household spending, dwelling characteristics, as well as household equipment.

  • The average household expenditure in British Columbia on food, furniture, cleaning services, etc.

Survey of Household Spending - Statistics Canada
Raw data in table form from the Survey of Household Spending (SHS). This general resource provides information on household spending by demographics. Report includes detailed information on Canadian spending patterns, household equipment, and housing conditions. Also includes the ability to view data from British Columbia only; click on "Add/Remove Data".

  • The average household expenditure on food, furniture, cleaning services, etc. expenses by province or in Canada as a whole. Compare changes over last few years.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Vividata (formerly "Print Measurement Bureau")
Includes information on Canadians' usage of over 3500 products and services. Information includes demographics, attitudes, media consumption, retail outlets, frequency of usage and brands used. UBC affiliates and in-person library patrons can learn more about the resource here.

  • Includes food, furniture, cleaning services, etc. by province and major Canadian cities broken down by data such as: martial status, family size, net income, and language spoken.PMB Category Reports - PMB 2011 Spring Study. Information on the personal buying preferences of Canadians with regard to food, furniture, cleaning services, etc.

Marketresearch.com/Freedonia Focus

How to access: Check your local public or academic library to see about access. If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

While you can search this website only some Canadian libraries provide full-text access to the market research reports on industries and demographics for North American industries. They can range from 50 to 400+ pages in length, and contain charts, tables, and graphs, and key facts. Marketresearch.com has varied industry coverage and includes US and international information.

  • H&M Canada Inc in Apparel and Footwear

"The company continues to focus on fast-moving fashion and also works closely with designers, celebrities and fashion houses to develop exclusive collections at more affordable prices for its stores, such as the 2014 launch of Alexander Wang. The company is committed to sustainable development, waste reduction and recycling, and also joined the growing eco-friendly trend, such as the launch of the Conscious Collection made from environmentally-friendly organic fabrics and leather."

UBC Psychology Research Guide

Sometimes it can be useful when researching consumer behaviour and other marketing topics with psychological dimensions to consult article databases in that research area. This is an online guide to print and online resources about psychology in the UBC Library collection. UBC affiliates will have access to all the resources listed. 

Public Opinion Polls

Roper Center for Public Opinion
Preserves the data from polls conducted by many leading survey organizations for the use of researchers, students, and journalists. Includes a section on how to analyze polls. Only for those affiliated with UBC.

Ipsos
Links to Canadian, U.S. and international polls. Includes polls on consumer goods.

Primary Research

Sometimes doing your own market research is the only way to learn about your potential customers. If this is the case, you may need to conduct focus groups, interviews, surveys, or some other form of data collection. But before you commit time and energy to this kind of research, be sure to try the sources listed in this section.