Industries are groups of companies in the same line of business. Points of interest in industry research include financial trends, industry profiles, current and projected environment, major companies and their market share.
NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) is the standard coding system for defining North American industries. NAICS is a powerful indexing tool used by hundreds of government and commercial databases. It groups natural language industry descriptions into one through six digit hierarchical codes that often allow you to retrieve just the data you want for a specific industry configuration.
But NAICS has its limits. Small or very new industries may not have specific codes. Looking for information about the U.S. Dating Services Industry, for example, will turn up the NAICS code:
81299 “Other Personal Care Services”.
The “9” at the end of the code is a tip-off that this category is for “Not Elsewhere Classified” industries within the larger group of personal care services. In this case, it includes a hodge-podge of services. In addition to dating services, it applies to services including “ear piercing”, “tanning salons”, “tattooing” and “shoe shining”.
NAICS is maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau, so you won’t find a statistical breakdown of dating services in the U.S. Economic Censuses. However, commercial databases can use the NAICS “as is”, or modified in any way they see fit.
One commercial database that uses NAICS codes, but often modifies them for additional granularity, is IBIS World Industry Reports. A search for “dating services” on IBIS will turn up this report:
Online Dating in the US (December 2011)
The Online Dating report estimates 2012 revenue for the industry as $1.9 billion, as well as lists major companies in the industry with their market share.
IBIS gives this report the modified NAICS Code 81299a. Other examples of IBIS’ modified NAICS codes include:
81219a Weight Loss Services
81219b Hair loss Treatment
81219c Tanning Salons
Micro-industry Company Lists
Often we are interested in lists of companies within an industry. Two sources of company information useful in discovering the small companies within a niche industry are ReferenceUSA (REFUSA) and Dun & Bradstreet.
The 14 million company database, ReferenceUSA, tags its company records with NAICS codes. One can search REFUSA for all companies with the NAICS code 81299, and it will return a list of dating service companies (plus tanning salons, tattoo parlors and shoe shine emporiums). This is not too helpful if you want only dating service companies.
However, REFUSA also uses modified SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes to describe its companies. SIC codes are an older industrial coding system last updated in 1987. REFUSA uses the modified SIC code 729926 to tag companies involved in dating services. A search of this code will retrieve a list and description of more than 1,700 companies in the industry.
Dun & Bradstreet also uses modified SIC codes (up to 8 digits) for its most granular company classification. Here are some examples:
72990301 Dating Services
72990105 Tanning Salons
72990106 Tatoo Parlors
A search of the 19 million company database, ICARUS, which uses D&B data, turns up 750 companies with the SIC 72990301.
For additional resources for industry information, see our Business FAQ “Where do I find industry statistics and reports?”.