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Using the NAICS code for market research

What is a NAICS code?

The NAICS, or North American Industry Classification System, is the standard used by both Canadian and U.S. statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the North American economy.

NAICS codes vary from 3-digits to 6-digits in length, and are assigned to industries.  They form a numerical hierarchy for organizational purposes.


NAICS code Industry
445 Food and Beverage Stores
4452 Specialty Food Stores 
445220 Fish and Seafood Markets

As you can see from the table above, the shorter the NAICS code, the broader or more all-encompassing the industry.  The longer the NAICS code, the more specific the industry.

What can you use the NAICS code to find?

Many of the Library's specialized market research, financial, and government statistics databases allow you to search by NAICS code for information on your industry. 

The kind of information you can find in these databases using a NAICS code search are the following:

  • industry statistics
  • industry profiles and analyses
  • industry competitors
  • benchmarks for firms in your industry with ratios
  • detailed financial data from publicly traded companies 
  • news from industry and trade associations

Where to begin your search:

The following Library databases will provide you with the information you will need to support business decisions/endeavours, and they can all be accessed via the 'Article Databases' tab on the Library homepage ( 

  • For financial information, use: Mergent
  • For annual reports, use: Mergent, company’s website*
  • For competitor analysis, use: Mergent, Business Source Premier (Economist Intelligence
  • Unit reports), IBISWorld, Gale Business Insights
  • For market size, market trends, and scope, use: Business Source Premier, Passport GMID - Global Market Information
  • Database (for Euromonitor reports), IBISWorld, Gale Business Insights
  • For success factors and SWOT analyses, use: Business Source Premier
  • For press coverage, use: Business Source Premier, ABI/Inform Global, ABI/Inform Trade & Industry, Canadian Newsstand,
  • CBCA Reference, Lexis Nexis (International Newspapers)
  • For statistical and demographic information, use: Simply Map, CANSIM, Census of Canada, municipal websites*
  • For benchmarking information, use: Financial Performance Data*, Financial Performance Indicators (via Citrix databases), Canadian Business Patterns (via Citrix databases)

*Denotes non-library resources available freely on the Internet.