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IBISWorld for Consulting

Explore how to use IBISWorld products as a consultant.

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.

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Which industry report sections are most useful for consultants?

In this guide, we’ll be using the Advertising Agencies industry report as an example.

Industry at a Glance

Industry at a Glance is a great place to start, as it gives you a high-level overview of the industry. For consultants, we recommend looking at the SWOT analysis to immediately identify key points to investigate further in other chapters.

An example of the Industry at a Glance page for Advertising Agencies in the US

We also recommend our consulting clients take a look at the Key Trends section. These trends can guide the questions you ask of your clients, helping you pinpoint focus areas and potential projects. The Executive Summary section provides an overview of the industry’s performance over the past five years, how it looks now, and what we’re forecasting for the next five years.

An example of the Key Trends and Executive Summary sections of the Industry at a Glance chapter

Industry Performance

Let’s move on to the Industry Performance chapter. Key External Drivers are factors outside a business’s control that pose threats to its performance, or offer opportunities, and are very useful for consultants to be aware of.

An example of the Key External Drivers section of the Industry Performance chapter

The Current Performance section offers a more thorough breakdown of the industry’s performance over the past five years and in the current year. Customize the chart to compare metrics like industry revenue, wages, and employee and establishment numbers in both value and percentage change terms. Click the download button to use them in your own reports and presentations.

An example of the Current Performance section of the Industry Performance chapter

Current Performance also includes detailed insights into a range of factors behind the trends you see in the chart above, such as how the industry handled the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in demand, or major shifts in the industry.

The Current Performance section of the Industry Performance chapter

Scroll down or click on Historical Performance Data in the left-hand navigation bar to view the past 20 years of data as values or percentage changes, as well as a range of industry ratios, which we’ll look at in more detail later in this guide.

An example of the Historical Performance Data section of the Industry Performance chapter

Industry Outlook

Click on Industry Outlook in the left-hand navigation bar for forward-looking data and analysis for the next five years. This chapter, built around data from our proprietary forecasting model, gives you a clear picture of where your client’s industry is headed and offers insights into projected revenue changes and other shifts within the industry. Use the information in this section to ask your clients how they are preparing for these changes, and scope out the opportunities they have to be a leader in their field.

An example of the Industry Outlook chapter

The Industry Life Cycle section is another favorite among consultants. We categorize each industry into Growing, Mature or Declining based on a range of factors, such as:

  • Contribution to the overall economy

  • Merger and acquisition activity

  • Number of industry enterprises

  • Technology & systems

  • Innovation

  • Market Saturation

    An example of the Industry Life Cycle section of the Industry Outlook chapter

As a consultant, you can use this information to identify whether your client is operating in an industry in the growth stage and help your clients grow even faster. You can also come up with strategies to help clients in mature industries maintain their success, recognition and brand awareness, or those in the decline phase to survive and thrive with the resources available.

Products & Markets

Let’s jump into the Products & Markets chapter. The Supply Chain section is particularly useful for consultants. This section maps out the industries that buy from and sell to your client’s industry, and includes links to industry reports for each of those suppliers and downstream buyers. We saw through the COVID-19 pandemic just how much supply chain disruptions can affect industries, so it’s important to understand how your client can access inputs and how best they can serve downstream demand industries.

An example of the Supply Chain section of the Products & Markets chapter

Scrolling down, the Products & Services section breaks down the key offerings in the industry, and includes analysis of each segment.

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

This is particularly useful if your client operates in an industry you aren’t familiar with. The Products & Services section is also popular with our consulting clients as it can prompt questions like:

  • Which segment does my client operate in?

  • What is their product and service mix?

  • Is there room for expansion in existing segments?

  • Is there a segment that could offer new opportunities?

  • Is my client a specialist that focuses on one segment?

The Demand Determinants section breaks down the reasons downstream markets are purchasing from this industry, and the external factors driving trends in industry demand.

The Major Markets section is really useful to our consulting clients, as it provides a breakdown of the areas that an industry sells to. This section gives you insights into areas that your client could be paying closer attention to and includes detailed analysis behind the segmentation.

An example of teh Major Markets section in the Products & Markets chapter

Geographic Breakdown

At first glance, the Key Insights section gives you a rapid overview of important trends at a state level, such as the state with the most establishments, highest revenue, and fastest and slowest growth.

This chapter offers a state-by-state breakdown of revenue, establishment, employment and wages as numbers and growth rates. The heat map also gives you an immediate picture of the states with a significant industry presence. Use the drop-down menu above the map to select establishment, revenue, employment or wage data, then hover over a state on the map to see its share of the industry in that category. Scroll down to the table to view or download the data for each state across all four metrics for insights into the states that are most relevant to your client.

An example of the interactive map of the US in the Geographic Breakdown chapter

If you need to take an even closer look, click on a state in the map or table to go straight to the corresponding Industry State Report. For example, clicking on California would take you to the Advertising Agencies in California report. These State and Provincial Reports let you get really granular, breaking down revenue, establishment, employment and wage figures at a county level and offering further insights into local industry operations.

An example of a State and Provincial Report

You can also click on the location icon on the left side of your screen to open a state industry report at any point.

An enlarged view of the navigation bar, outlining the location icon to show where to locate a state industry report

Competitive Landscape

Let’s take a look at the Competitive Landscape chapter. This chapter answers useful questions about the industry, like:

  • How concentrated is the industry?

  • What size are the businesses in this space?

  • What key factors contribute to an operator’s success in the industry?

  • How is spending segmented in the industry?

  • How has this cost breakdown changed over time?

The Key Success Factors section is particularly useful for consultants, as it highlights five to six crucial considerations for businesses in this industry. If you narrow your focus to these factors, you could even consider each one its own project and examine how your client is performing in relation to it.

The Key Success Factors of the Competitive Landscape chapter

Cost Structure Benchmarks is also a key section for consultants. This section breaks down the industry’s average profit margin and spending on a range of costs. Hover over each segment of the chart to see the percentage of revenue it accounts for. For example, operators in the Advertising Agencies industry had an average profit margin of 5.7% in 2022. The chart also shows the cost breakdown over the past ten years, so you can track the change in costs over time. 

An example of the interactive chart in the Cost Structure Benchmarks section in the Competitive Landscape chapter

Scroll down for a breakdown of each cost segment, including relevant trends and the wider influences on the industry’s cost structure. This information is particularly useful for financial consulting engagements, as it allows you to compare your client’s cost breakdown with the overall industry and propose areas to reduce costs.

Major Companies

The Major Companies chapter identifies the industry’s largest players and breaks down key performance metrics, like revenue, annual growth, and profit, as well as whether the company is an industry all-star, rising star, disruptor or laggard. Companies with a market share of 5% or greater also have analyst insights into their performance. Click on any of the company names in the table to jump to an overview of the operator, and compare its performance to your client’s.

An example of the Major Companies chapter

Company Benchmarking Reports

If you need more information on your client’s competitors, click on ‘View Company Profile’ to go directly to an operator’s Company Benchmarking Report.

An example of the Company Overview section with the 'View Company Profile' button outlined

Reports in this add-on collection provide deeper insights into thousands of operators, through financials and key ratios, as well as SWOT analysis and breakdowns of market share and products and services in each industry of operation. Use this analysis to benchmark your client against competitors across a range of key metrics, to support your research process and highlight areas for improvement.

An example of a US Company Benchmarking report

Operating Conditions

This chapter provides insights into key operating conditions within the industry. Expand the chapter in the left-hand navigation bar to jump to analysis of Technology and Systems, Revenue Volatility, Regulation and Policy, and Industry Assistance. These sections give you the opportunity to take a closer look at any red flags that pop up for industry operating conditions.

An example of the Operating Conditions chapter

Key Statistics

The Key Statistics chapter offers 20 years of historical data and five years of projections across a range of metrics. Click the download symbol to export the data to excel, which lets you break it down, find exactly what you’re looking for, and use it in your own analysis. 

An example of the key statistics chapter

The Financial Ratios section is also very useful for consultants. Here you’ll find 45 different financial ratios and can compare performance across recent years, as well as the three-, five- and ten-year figures. Click on Calculations in the top right corner for definitions and calculations. Use the drop-down menu at the top left of the table to break down the data by the size of businesses in revenue terms.

An example of the Financial Ratios section in the Key Statistics chapter

Call Preparation Questions

The last chapter that we’ll cover in this guide is Call Preparation Questions. These questions are really useful for consultants in the early stages of winning business engagement and help you better understand your prospect or client.

An example of the Call Preparations chapter

These call preparation questions are broken down into specific roles, as well as internal and external influences, giving you a great starting point to think about areas to explore. They also help you to focus your research, structure conversations with staff members, get the data you need and shape your recommendations. 

Which other IBISWorld collections are most useful for consultants?

Risk Ratings Reports

Our additional collection of Risk Ratings Reports gives you the numerical values you need to back up your findings. These reports rate different structural, growth and sensitivity risk factors from 1-9, with 1 being the lowest risk and 9 the highest, and weigh them according to their influence on the industry.

To quickly access the Risk Ratings for the industry, click on the lightning bolt icon at the left side of your screen. The Risk Overview will give you a quick breakdown of the risk scores for each category, as well as the industry’s overall rating.  For example, the Advertising Agency industry’s highest risk component in 2022 is structural risk, at 5.29.

An example of a Risk Ratings report, showing the Risk Overview section

Click on the risk component in the left-hand navigation bar for a breakdown of each score, including detailed analysis on each factor. By clicking on the Structural Risk tab, we see that barriers to entry and level of assistance both score 7 and above, making them high or very high-risk factors. We generally recommend taking a closer look at any risk component that scores over 6. 

An example of the Structural Risk Chapter in a Risk Ratings report

Segment Benchmarking

When you’re ready to take all this data one step further, click on the Segment Benchmarking chapter in the left-hand navigation bar. Segment Benchmarking is an additional collection that you can add to your IBISWorld subscription that allows you to break down our industry data based on business size in terms of the number of employees, so you can compare your client's performance to their peers instead of just industry averages.

For example, looking at the Advertising Agencies in the US Segment Benchmarking report shows us that businesses with 500+ employees held almost 50% of the market in 2022 But if you're working with a smaller agency, you'll see that businesses with 20-99 employees hold only 17.7% of the market, and that share is forecast to decrease.

An example of the Segment Benchmarking chapter

Click on each employee segment to jump to more information on its performance, including segment revenue, employee and establishment numbers, average revenue, wage costs and average wages. You’ll also have access to SWOT analysis and performance benchmarking.

An example of the 20-99 employee segment in the Segment Benchmarking chapter

For additional questions regarding IBISWorld for consultants, 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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