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.
- Select your industry's NAICS code from this list and click use these codes. Add "co-operative" or select British Columbia to narrow your results.
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.
CanadaOne - Canadian Business Directory
CanadaOne has a directory of over 20,000 Canadian businesses.
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.
Federal Corporations Data Online
Free searchable database of federally incorporated/registered companies.
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.
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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Online directory of trade shows, exhibitions, public events, conferences and seminars. Please note: free registration required.