IBISWorld for Strategic Planning

How to use IBISWorld for the strategic planning process.

Updated over a week ago

Note: this article and video predate our Modern Research Experience. We're working on bringing you the most up-to-date training that aligns with our enhanced platform and products.

For a video tutorial, watch IBISWorld for Strategic Planning.

Which industry report sections are most useful for strategic planning?

Let’s get started using the Refrigerated Storage in the US industry report as an example.


The About chapter of our industry reports provides an overview of the industry as well as related industries.

Under the Supply Chain section of the About chapter, you can find all of the industries in the upstream and downstream supply chain for a given industry, as well as all related competitor and complementor industries. This section is useful for strategic planning if your business operates in multiple spaces, not just within a particular industry.

An example of the Supply Chain in the About chapter

Industry Performance

The first section in the Industry Performance chapter that's useful for strategic planning is Key External Drivers. This section covers a given industry’s historical and projected annual change as well as in-depth analysis on factors that are outside of a business’s control but can have a lot of influence on the performance of a business.

As seen in the image below, you can add and remove various key external drivers from the interactive chart and compare the data to revenue trends in the same industry.

An example of the Key External Drivers chart

You can use the Current Performance section to see how the performance of your business aligns with the performance of the overall industry. Aside from the raw data, this section also contains useful analysis found beneath the chart. This analysis dives into how the industry is affected by major events, recent trends, influential businesses within the industry and more. With this analysis in hand, you can monitor for similar trends in your business and better prepare, responding proactively rather than reactively when it comes to these factors.

An example of the Current Performance chart

Industry Outlook

The Industry Outlook chapter is one of the most valuable tools for strategic planning, using our proprietary forecasting model to project what the next five years of growth looks like in the industry. You can see how our forecast for the industry compares to where you see your business in the upcoming years.

An example of the Industry Outlook chapter

Our analysis of the outlook for a given industry covers what we project will happen in the industry and, most importantly, why we project specific changes and trends will occur.

Products & Markets

The Products and Markets chapter is useful for strategic planning because it gives you insights into areas of opportunity for your business’s product mix.

As you can see from the Products & Services chart for the Refrigerated Storage in the US industry below, 65.7% of industry revenue comes from the storage of goods, while 24.9% of industry revenue comes from the handling of goods. Businesses operating in this space can use these insights to see if their revenue streams are aligned with the industry norms, if there are any opportunities to add more streams of revenue or if there's an opportunity to become more niche and focus on one revenue stream.

An example of the Products & Services section in the Products & Markets chapter

The Demand Determinants section allows you to analyze the factors affecting demand for a given industry’s products and/or services. You can compare this section to what you’re seeing in the market and determine where there are areas for growth.

The Major Markets section outlines the key downstream markets that a given industry is selling to. You can use this section to see how the distribution of a given industry’s major markets compares to that of your own business to find opportunities for growth or expansion.

An example of the Cost Structure Benchmarks section, including the Cost Structure

Geographic Breakdown

The Geographic Breakdown chapter gives you more granular insights into a given industry at the state level. While the Products & Markets chapter gives you insights into potential markets and product areas to move into, this chapter provides insights into potential states to expand into or focus on.

Clicking into any of the states within this chapter brings you to our US Industry State Reports product for that state. The US Industry State Reports are a separate IBISWorld product that subscribers can access through this chapter. Non-subscribers can still find sortable state-level data within the Geographic Breakdown chapter.

The interactive map of the US in the Geographic Breakdown chapter

Check out our State and Provincial Industry Reports article for more information on this product and how to subscribe to it.

Competitive Landscape

The Competitive Landscape chapter provides analysis on the external environment in which the industry operates.

The Key Success Factors section allows you to compare your business’s performance to the factors that drive performance in the industry. You can go through each factor and evaluate if your business is allocating resources in these areas and if your business is operating at peak efficiency.

An example of the Key Success Factors section

The Cost Structure Benchmarks section breaks down where revenue in a given industry and sector is spent. You can use this section for strategic planning by comparing your business’s distribution of revenue to the industry averages. For example, operators in the refrigerated storage industry spend, on average, 0.5% of revenue on marketing. Industry operators conducting research for strategic planning would evaluate if their business spends more or less on marketing and how that may affect their bottom line.

An example of the Cost Structure Benchmarks section

For an even more in-depth breakdown of revenue distribution, scroll down to the Other Breakdown section.

Major Companies

The Major Companies chapter provides analysis on which companies have the most sway in the industry, how their operations have fared and which strategies allow them to be successful.

The Market Share Overview section looks at the top companies in a given industry and how much of the market share they hold. The chart allows you to look at the historical data over the past five years to see how the top companies have performed over the years.

An example of the Market Share Overview section in the Major Companies chapter

If you scroll down in this chapter, you will find more granular information about the top companies in a given industry. These sections cover each company’s registered name and key brands, the size and scope of the company, their current and historical financial performance, other industries they operate within and more.

The company information in this chapter also links to our US Company Benchmarking product, which provides even more granular data on companies within a given industry.

Segment Benchmarking

The Segment Benchmarking chapter of an industry report is an add-on chapter including employee and revenue segment breakdowns, so you can understand an industry’s nuances and more accurately compare your business against similar-sized operators in the industry.

As you can see in the breakdown of total industry revenue for the refrigerated storage industry below, the market share for smaller businesses (0-4 employees) and larger businesses (500+ employees) is increasing while the market share for medium-sized businesses is decreasing. Analysis of this data could show that smaller businesses are entering the market while large businesses are buying out medium-sized businesses.

An example of Breakdown of Total Industry Revenue in the Segment Benchmarking chapter

By clicking into the employee-size segment that correlates with your business, you can see how businesses in that segment are performing and understand what’s impacting that segment with our SWOT analysis.

To learn more about the features and benefits of this chapter, check out our US Segment Benchmarking article.

Call Preparation Questions

The Call Preparation Questions chapter is a great starting place for a strategic planning session, giving you industry-relevant questions broken down into specific roles, as well as internal and external influences.

If your business is conducting a strategic planning session, you can print out this chapter, hand it out to stakeholders, and ask the group these questions about your business.

For additional questions regarding IBISWorld for strategic planning, please contact your Client Relationship Manager. If you don’t have an IBISWorld account, please contact us to learn more about our membership options.

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