Before you begin researching your competitors, you should know a little bit of information about this company or these companies.
Why? It'll impact where you search and the amount of information that you find. Ask:
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Private companies are more difficult to research; they do not have to disclose any information to the public.
Public companies are easiest to research. They are regulated by the government (in the U.S., it's the SEC), sell shares to the general public, and must publically report company and financial information.
Subsidiary companies will not have their own annual reports, and you may not find information on them in the resources listed on this page. You'll need to determine who the parent company is and research the parent company. Journal articles will be a major source for information on subsidiaries.
International companies also won't be included in some of the databases, such as NetAdvantage. Check Mergent or Business Source Elite for international company information.
Company profiles provide succinct overviews of a company--company history, key facts, top executives, major products and services, competitors, locations, subsidiaries.
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How will you differentiate your product or service? What would provide value to customers?
Consult www.marketresearch.com and other portals to learn which research companies sell reports on your area of interest. These reports include information about the market and emerging trends. We do not subscribe to these resources and reports can be very expensive. However, information can be gleaned from the abstracts and tables of contents.
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Who are your competitors? Once you find them, if they are public companies, check out their 10K and other SEC filings (using EDGAR or Lexis Nexis) for the company's annual report and more. Use your industry's NAICS code to search by industry in these databases.
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How do customers view the service or product they use now? Are there satisfaction studies on your competitors' products or services? Try searching for your product or service and satisfaction. Some databases may even have a subject heading for customer satisfaction.
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