I’ve long respected the First Research industry overviews assembled by Dun & Bradstreet. While most industry research runs from complex to arcane, First Research reports serve as industry primers providing plain English overviews of an industry. If you were to read the report for your own industry, you would probably find it useful only for new hire training.
And that is the beauty of the reports. They are for novices lacking an understanding of an industry which makes them perfect for territory sales reps or relationship managers. In fact, they were originally designed for relationship managers at banks before First Research realized that sales reps were equally in need of their research. If your job requires you to interact with individuals across many industries, then First Research may be the perfect resource for “getting up to speed” on an industry. They can also be valuable for job hunters looking for a basic set of questions to ask about an industry.
Content includes an Industry Overview containing the following sub-sections:
- Competitive Landscape
- Products & Operations
- Sales & Marketing
- Finance & Working Capital
- International Insights
- Regional Highlights
- Human Resources
along with these additional sections:
- News and Social (FirstRain)
- Quarterly Industry Update
- Industry Forecast
- Industry Growth Rating (High, medium or low)
- Industry Indicators
- Company Information
- Critical Issues
- Business Challenges
- Business Trends
- Industry Opportunities
- Executive Insights and Questions
- Financial Information
- Call Prep Questions Websites & Acronyms
First Research contains several sections of Q&A content including Call Prep Questions and Executive Insights which are questions specific to C-level executives. Sometimes in life, you need to “fake it until you make it” (i.e. develop expertise) and First Research is designed for this purpose.
Through an OEM deal with FirstRain, high-precision industry news is included in the service along with FirstRain topic tagging and visual tools. FirstRain content includes Latest News, Top Business Tweets, Management Changes, Event Timeline, Industry Health Indicators, Analyst Commentary, and Recent Transactions. FirstRain does not archive this content but provides six months of open web news links.
First Research covers over 500 US and 35 Canadian industries spanning 1,000 NAICS codes. While the reports are US-centric, they have recently begun adding international sections to the reports. As a bonus, the product includes regional reports for US states, the District of Colombia, and Canadian provinces. Country briefs are also available.
Other tools include a set of sales and marketing templates providing examples of how to use First Research content in various scenarios and an industry prospector tool for assisting with market development planning.
First Research reports are available as a standalone offering or integrated into the Hoover’s database, D&B360 CRM connectors, and the D&B Direct API. A subset of the content is also being delivered via Data.com. For library patrons, Dun & Bradstreet has partnered with Mergent to deliver the reports as a standalone offering or integrated into some of their products such as Mergent Intellect.
First Research should be viewed as industry insights for non-experts. You won’t find depth on key trends or issues, but the service is easily accessible and walks the user through industry basics. You generally don’t find industry news or Q&A sections in other industry services.
If you are looking for more advanced cross-industry research, you can step up to
- MarketLine (global and regional research)
- Euromonitor (global and regional research)
- IBISWorld (US, Australian, Chinese, and global research)
- Freedonia (US)
- BMI (emerging markets)
- EMD (emerging markets).
These services provide more complex reports while retaining readability. While you won’t find as much handholding (e.g. Q&A sections), you will find broader industry trend and forecast content along with profiles of the top three or four competitors in the market. As many are globally focused, they may be better sources for international market entry decisions.
You can find a full review of First Research at FreePint (Note: I am a contributor to FreePint, but the review was written by a different author)