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Business-to-Business Marketing

Business-to-Business Marketing

Department of Management & Marketing

Notes & Requirements regarding the Industry Analysis


As a requirement of this course, you will conduct an Industry Analysis during the semester.  The purpose is to help you develop your secondary research skills.  Such skills entail using previously-collected information, typically developed by others, to answer current questions.  Why is this important?  Effective Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketing requires that you have a full understanding of your customers, competitors, and market trends.  This understanding must be based upon quality information, if you are to make valid business decisions.


What you are required to do

In general, you are required to do 3 things.  First, you must pick an industry.  Second, you will acquire specific information about the industry you select.  Third, you will communicate your findings to Dr. Thomas.


Picking your industry

It is preferable that you select the industry that you will analyze, rather than have Dr. Thomas “dictate” it to you.  Having said that, there are several points you should keep in mind:

  • This is an analysis of an industry (i.e., a group of organizations). This is NOT an analysis of an individual organization.  For example, while Texaco is indeed an interesting and powerful organization, it is still a single firm.  An analysis of Texaco would be inappropriate for this assignment.  Instead, Texaco is a member of the oil refinery industry, in which it competes with firms such as Amoco, Exxon, etc.  As such, an analysis of the oil refinery industry (which would include Texaco) would be appropriate.  To be perfectly clear … if you submit an analysis of an individual firm, company, or organization, your analysis will NOT be graded, and you will earn a zero on this assignment.
  • The industry that you analyze must, to a large degree, be a B2B industry, not a business-to-consumer industry.
  • If you insist on analyzing a consumer products industry, you must analyze the B2B aspect of it. For example, if you wanted to analyze the soft drink industry (clearly a consumer product), you would analyze the bottling companies that sell to retailers.  An analysis of retailers selling to final consumers would be highly inappropriate.
  • Consider choosing an industry that interests you. It might be an industry in which you currently work, have worked, or wish to work.  It could be an industry in which a family member or friend currently works or competes, or it could be an industry that quite simply just interests you.  For example, if you are an avid skateboarder, you might decide to analyze that part of the industry that produces skateboards (and sells to sporting goods retailers).
  • You might consider selecting an industry that is well-established and well-defined. While this is not meant to preclude new and emerging industries, there is much more information publicly-available on well-established industries.


Acquiring specific information about the industry

While a multitude of quite valid electronic resources are available to you, beware the Internet.  Keep in mind that anyone can publish most anything they like on the Internet, whether it is valid or not.  Stick to reliable sources.


Do NOT pay for access to any site, unless you simply want to do so.  Use the resources of the Houston Cole Library (HCL).  JSU has already paid for access to many reliable source sites, so there is no reason for you to pay extra.  One of your best resources will be Ms. Kim Westbrooks of the HCL.  Ms. Westbrooks has provided a link ( that will provide you very useful information, guide to library resources, and help with this assignment.  She is our business librarian and is well-versed regarding this assignment.  She is located on the 4th floor of the HCL, and her phone number is 256-782-5244.  Her email address is


Your assignment has 7 major sections, 5 of which require that multiple specific questions be answered.  The sections, and their required information, are as follows:



You will provide a 1-2 paragraph introduction.  This section should simply be a clear definition of the industry you are analyzing.  This should include the types of products provided by the industry, who (in general) produces them, how they are sold, and to whom (in general) they are sold.


            Industry Specific Knowledge

These are the questions you will answer in this section:

  • What is the most appropriate NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) code for your industry?

This is the primary industrial coding system in use today.  With this code, it will help you define your industry.  At last check, the HCL had the hard copy (as well as electronic access) and Dr. Thomas has a copy in his office.


  • What is the primary Trade Association for your industry?

Most every industry has a trade association (or multiple ones) that typically collect and publish information about the industry.  For example, the Premium Incentive industry’s primary trade association is the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA).  Such associations can be valuable resources in helping you find some of the information you must provide.


  • What 3 historical events have shaped the development and growth of the industry?

For example, if you were analyzing the cargo aircraft manufacturing industry, you might mention the Wright Brothers 1st powered flight in history, the development of the jet engine, and perhaps the advances in micro-technology that are used in aircraft today.


  • What was the value of shipments for the U.S. in the latest year reported?

Value means dollar amount; number of units shipped/sold is irrelevant.


If you elect to analyze a world-wide industry instead of a U.S.-based industry, that is fine.  However, do not “bounce back and forth.”  In other words, do not provide international data in one place, and then U.S. data in another.


As for the latest reported year, it would be surprising if anything is available for 2018 or even 2017 yet.   The same might be true for 2016, depending upon the industry.  Therefore, 2015, 2014, even 2013 might be acceptable.  If the data is more than 5 years old, it is questionable at best.


  • What are the values of imports and exports for the last 5 years?

Again, value means dollar amount.


It will be difficult for you to adequately argue that your industry does not export/import products.  Even in service-focused industries (such as the advertising industry), firms sell to overseas clients, or import services from abroad.


Depending upon how you define your industry, the U.S. Department of Commerce may well provide this information.


  • What was the average annual growth rate over the last 3 years?

This should be a percentage (such as 1.2% or 3.5%).  If you cannot find a source that provides this specific information, you might be able to compute it yourself.  For example, if you know the sales for the last three years, that can be used to compute the statistic.  If you do this, state that you are doing so.  If you do not know how to do so, contact Dr. Thomas and he will walk you through it.


  • What is the forecasted annual growth rate of the industry?

Again, this should be a percentage, and if a source is unavailable to provide it for you, it can be computed in a manner like the above.


  • What are two other industry statistics that are important for your industry? Why are these important?

Beware that this is one of the parts of the assignment where many past students have lost points.  All industries find the economic growth rate, or the employment rate to be important.  Yet, all industries also have statistics that are important to them, but not to others.  For example, the OPEC rate of production is important to the refinery industry as it has a direct impact upon the supply of oil available for refining.  However, OPEC’s production rate is at best of mild interest to the home construction industry.


Major Competitors

These are the questions you will answer in this section:

  • Who are the top 5 companies in the industry?

This is a straight-forward question.  It is very rare that there are not at least 5 firms competing in an industry.  Some may be much larger than others, but there are almost always 5 or more in competition.


  • What are the most recent sales revenues for each of the top 5 firms?

These should be reported in dollar amounts.


  • Which firm is the industry leader and why?

Simply saying that the firm with the highest sales revenues is the leader because it has the most sales revenues is insufficient.  You need to explain why it is considered the leader.  Why are its sales higher than the other competitors’?


  • What potential competition could arise from outside the industry?

This question and the next are also prime point-loss questions.  To say there is no competition outside the industry is short-sighted.  At its core, what any industry produces/sells is a benefit (that in turn fulfills needs).  Potential competition outside the industry may provide a similar benefit, just in a different way.  These are the competitors that can sometimes “blindside” an industry.  For example, when personal computers were first introduced, businesses saw them as nothing more than glorified game machines.  It wasn’t until Big Blue (IBM) introduced its first PC that businesses began to recognize that word processing could be performed more efficient on a PC than on a typewriter, or that mathematical functions could be more efficient performed on a PC than an adding machine.


  • Why would such competition outside the industry serve as potential competition?

You might decide to explain how such outside competition provides a similar benefit by describing the process used, etc.


            The Supply Chain

The supply chain includes all organizations involved in the production, distribution, and sale of products.  These are the questions (all of which are relatively straight-forward) you will answer in this section:

  • What type of suppliers provide the basic raw materials?

(What general type, not specifically-named suppliers)


  • What type of suppliers provide component parts?

(What general type, not specifically-named suppliers)


  • What type of manufacturers produce the finished product?

(What general type, not specifically-named manufacturers)


  • What type of intermediaries are involved in the distribution and/or sale of the product?

(What general type, not specifically-named intermediaries)


  • What other type of firms influence the supply chain in the industry?

(What general type, not specifically-named firms)


  • What companies supply important inputs to the industry?
    1. What products do they supply?
    2. What major factors influence their ability to provide these products and why?

(Here is the only place in this section where you might identify specifically-named firms)



It cannot be stressed strongly enough that in this assignment, customers must be organizations, NOT individual consumers.  If you discuss individual consumers at all, you will lose all points for this section.  These are the questions you will answer in this section:

  • What type of customer groups buy the products this industry produces?

This question is asking about the different target markets served by your industry.  For example, the heavy truck industry serves 3 major target markets: the over-the-road market (highway truckers), the city market (inner-city deliveries), and the specialty market (manufactured housing, construction, etc.).  It is important that we identify the different segments, because each segment has different needs, and typically different buying processes and criteria.


  • Describe the major buying processes used by EACH of these customer groups.

Some target markets rely on negotiation, others rely upon specific government regulations, etc.  You need to describe the major process for each of the individual target markets you identified above.


  • What are the key buying criteria used by EACHparticular target segment?

Different segments find different criteria important.  For example, OTR truckers tend to focus on fuel economy, price, and resting equipment (sleeper units, etc.).  On the other hand, city truckers are more interested in lower-end torque (initial pulling power), price, and available un/loading accessories (such as power lift-gates).


  • How do the buyers in each of the individual segments use the products?

Do they use the product to produce their own products, or do they use the products to maintain their organization, or do they resell the products?  For example, if the computer hardware industry was analyzed, you might identify 3 key segments (retail, professional services, other services).  So, a retailer might purchase PC’s to resell to the public.  Professional services such as accounting firms might use PC’s to produce their service (doing taxes for other firms), and other services (such as plumbing services) might use PC’s to manage their paperwork and service schedule.


  • Is it possible for the customers to produce the products themselves?
    1. If so, why can they produce the product themselves and why are they outsourcing them?
    2. If not, why not?


  • Identify and describe the major customers for the industry’s products.

This is the only place in this section where you might identify individual organizations.  For example, if you were analyzing the textiles industry, you would have to identify Wal-Mart as a major customer since it is one of the largest purchasers of textiles in the world.



Make a prediction (based on the information you have collected) regarding the industry’s future (either immediate or longer term).  There is no wrong answer here,if your prediction makes sense based on common sense and the information you have provided.  This prediction should not exceed a paragraph.


Final Comments Regarding the Specific Information Required

Be sure that you address each and every one of the questions above.  If you skip over one, Dr. Thomas does not know whether you skipped it because the information was unavailable, or because the question did not apply to your industry, or because you simply overlooked the question.  You can answer by stating the question does not apply to your industry or that the information was unobtainable.  However, if you provide such a response, you need to explain yourself.  As you will see below, in each section you earn points for completeness and for quality.  If you leave a question unanswered, you lose points for both completeness and quality.  On the other hand, if you answer with not applicable, at worst you’ll lose points for quality.


The form used to grade your industry analysis

Grading CriterionPerformanceWeightPts Earned
Spelling, Grammar, etc.51.005
Industry Specific Knowledge Completeness52.0010
Industry Specific Knowledge Quality52.0010
Major Competitors Completeness52.0010
Major Competitors Quality52.0010
Supply Chain Completeness52.0010
Supply Chain Quality52.0010
Customers Completeness52.0010
Customers Quality52.0010
Was paper late? (If yes, -100 points)No0

In the form above, Performance is graded on a 5-point scale.  5 means it’s perfect.  4 means very minor issues.  3 means a few issues.  2 means major issues.  1 means critical issues. 0 means either fatal issues or you did not address the section.  Your performance is multiplied by the weight to determine your points.


Regarding spelling and grammar, this is not an English course.  You are expected to communicate in a manner appropriate for business.  This means that you use no “slang,” correctly spell, and use proper grammar.  Issues with all 3 will be noted early in the paper.  If they continue in a significant manner, no further indications will be noted, and you lose all points for spelling and grammar.


Regarding format, page numbers and major headings are required.  It is strongly suggested that you use sub-headings (as was done throughout this document).  Stick to the order designated above.  For example, if you decide to identify your industry’s most appropriate NAICS code at the beginning of the Major Competitors section, you lose the points for the NAICS code (which should be the 1st item you address in the Industry Specific Information section).


As per the course syllabus, if your analysis is submitted late (based on the date & time stamp designated by the University server), you will receive zero points for the assignment.  DO NOT BE LATE.  This assignment is due NO LATER THAN 7:30 am, Central Daylight Time, on Wednesday, October 3, 2018.  It must be emailed to Dr. Thomas’ University email account (


Communicating Your Findings

  • Please save your document as an MS Word document (this is the software provided to Dr. Thomas by the University).
  • Your file name should be the letters IA, followed by your last name and the 1st initial of your 1st For example, James Thomas’ file would be named IAThomasJ.docx.
  • Your report must be typed and spaced at least 1.15 (as in this document). You may use 1.5 or double spacing, if you wish.
  • Please use 12-point font, Times-New Roman. You may use any easy to read style, but Dr. Thomas is the judge of what is easy to read.
  • Use consistent margins.
  • Page numbers are required.
  • Major Headings are required.
    • Sub-headings are strongly suggested.
  • Try to avoid exceeding 10 pages. However, length is not a grading criterion.  Some very successful analyses have been only 5-6 pages long, while other successful ones were 12-13 pages long.  Take the length you need without being overly-verbose.
  • You should include a cover page whichONLYcontains the name of your industry and your name.
  • Put any tables, graphs, charts, etc. at end. You are not required to use such items.  However, if you do, you do not have to worry about inserting them into the document’s text.  Simply refer to the item (e.g., as may be seen in Table 1), and Dr. Thomas will know to look to the end of your paper to see it.


  • The order of the document should be as follows:
    • Cover Page
    • Introduction
    • Industry Specific Knowledge
    • Major Competition
    • Supply Chain
    • Customers
    • Conclusion
    • References
      • Follow the format used by the Journal of Marketing. JM used the APA format.
        • In-text citation
          • Bingham and Gomes (2001) or (Bingham and Gomes 2001)
        • Reference Section
          • Bingham, Frank G., Jr. and Roger Gomes (2001), Business Marketing, 2nd, Chicago, IL: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc.
        • Tables, Graphs, Charts, Etc.


Final Comments and Suggestions
  • Remember that this is an INDUSTRY
    • It is not the analysis of an individual firm.


  • Do NOT wait until the last week or day to begin. Start as soon as you can.  Excuses such as “the website was down,” or “an ice storm knocked out my power,” or “my dog ate my computer,” are unacceptable excuses for being late.


  • Consider using the “bullet format.” Many find this an easy way to ensure they do not forget anything.


  • If you have not chosen an industry within the first 2 weeks of the semester, contact Dr. Thomas for help.


  • Seek out Ms. Westbrooks at the Houston Cole Library. She is very knowledgeable and does not mind helping you.
    • Consider making an appointment to see Ms. Westbrooks or to talk with her on the phone.

Last Updated on August 26, 2019

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