Find Competitors

Published: Dec 12, 2018
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2019
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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.

Smaller businesses can still learn from dominant industry players, gaining insight into future risks and trends. For the retail industry the obvious company to start with is Amazon.

Free Business Directories

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.

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

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

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.

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.  

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.

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.

Store Conference

STORE is Retail Council of Canada’s two-day conference held annually in Toronto. With an agenda and networking opportunities targeted to the unique needs of the dynamic retail industry in Canada, STORE is THE must-attend event of the season.

Retail Marketing

Annual conference focusing on marketing in the retail industry, hosted by the Retail Council of Canada.

DX3 Retail, Marketing & Technology Show

Innovation and Retail summit with keynote speakers, workshops and demonstrations.

Retail West

The largest industry event tailored for the Western Canadian retail market.