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Topics in Business: Industry Research: Trade Associations

A review of industry research sources, including databases, free online federal and state government resources, and more.

What's an industry/trade association?

A trade association, also known as a business association, industry trade group, or industry association, is an organization dedicated to advocating for and advancing the causes and needs of a particular industry. Founded and run by persons within that industry and usually operating as a nonprofit, trade associations collect information and collate data about the industry whose interests they represent. As such, they're excellent sources of information on industries in the United States.

To find trade associations, the easiest thing to do is simply Google the name of the industry in which you're interested and add "industry association" or "trade association." Examples:

  • pet food industry association
  • beer industry association
  • hairdressers industry association

And here's a list of trade associations in the United States, courtesy of Wikipedia:

For larger states like California, there may be state and regional trade associations. Try Googling, for example, "California beer industry association."

A word of caution when researching trade associations: many of them require membership to access their data. For most, a fair amount of aggregate data for the United States at least will be available, with the breakdown by state unavailable to all but members. As membership in trade associations usually requires participation in the industry it represents plus a hefty fee, it's best to stick with whatever aggregate data is available.