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RWS 305W & RWS 390W

Trade Association Research

Trade associations, or industry associations, are organizations that are created by businesses that operate in a particular industry or industry sector. These groups typically lobby for regulations that benefit the industry, host trade shows and conferences, and perform activities that are designed to help businesses in an industry. Several of these groups maintain production directories, create research reports, and offer additional educational opportunities for business owners. Some of this content usually requires a membership, but they also generally have some content for free on their websites.

Step 1: Using a Google Advanced Search, try to put keywords about your industry and the words "industry" and "association" in the "all these words:" search bar, put .org in the "site or domain:" search bar, and press the blue "advanced search" button on the bottom right hand side of the page.


Step 2: Search through the results to find the right association, and explore their website for more information about your industry.


Pro tip: You can also use the same search strategy above and add PDF to the search using the "file type:" drop down options. If your trade association has created a packaged industry report, this will appear in the results. (See the example below)



Regional Economic Development Corporations and Chambers of Commerce

For information on the local impact of industries, local workforce trends, or information on complying with local regulations, the best place to look is either a Regional Economic Development Corporation or a Chamber of Commerce. Regional Economic Development Corporations operate a lot like think tanks. These groups do research on large scale industry trends within a region and developing policies that support regional economic and workforce development. These groups typically lobby to government and publish research on how to promote businesses in a variety of sectors within a region. Chambers of Commerce are small membership organizations of businesses in a defined geographic area, like a neighborhood. They typically plan street fairs as well as manage signage and location based marketing services for member businesses, but they sometimes also have networking events and share information on best practices, such as regulatory compliance. Much like trade associations, these are typical ".org" sites and can be found using a Google Advanced search with location keywords, the .org site limiter, and chamber or "economic development." 

"White Papers" from Consulting Firms

According to Susan Klopper, "Consulting firms have amassed deep knowledge about different industries, their competitive landscape, the many challenges each is facing, and what is needed for success. They pull this knowledge together in the form of what we call “whitepapers.” While these used to be reports, they now also include articles, podcasts, and surveys (2023, para. 2)." Her article, Consulting Firm Whitepapers: A Must for a Business Researcher’s Toolkit, covers useful strategies for finding industry information published by Consulting Firms.

Example Google Search Strategies include:

  • healthcare “artificial intelligence” inurl:mckinsey
  • food delivery (market OR industry) inurl:deloitte