February 15th, 2011

Market Research Tips: Code Systems

When doing market research in government websites, there are a couple of code systems that you should keep in mind. First, the federal government devised the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system in the 1930’s, which divides industries into 11 major categories. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), also used in Canada and in Mexico, acts as an update to the SIC codes. Both of these systems were designed to facilitate the collection and organization of data on each industry. The following illustrates how each system works:

SIC Code Categories Divisions, Groups, Industries
48 Major Group Communications
481 Individual Group Telephone Communications
4812 Industry Radiotelephone Communications
NAICS Number Categories Divisions, Group, Industries
51 Major Group Information
517 Individual Group Telecommunications
5172 Industry Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite)

Here is an example when these codes would become useful. If you are looking for industry-wide statistics, you would want to visit American Factfinder, 2007 Economic Census (http://factfinder.census.gov):


US Census Bureau:  Link to Data Sets in navigation bar

Among your options, you can click on search for data sets.

US Census Bureau:  Link to search data sets

On the search page, you can either enter the NAICS code if you know it, OR you can use the sector and industry drop-down menus to help you make a selection.

US Census Bureau search by industry code

If you are using LexisNexis, you can find the SIC and NAICS code on the Company Snapshot page after you search for a specific company. (See the LexisNexis User Guide for basic help in finding company information.)

LexisNexis Industry Codes on company profile page

Of course, if you still have questions about finding market research, Ask A Librarian!

– Ruth

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