Commercial Data Sources - dummies

By Meta S. Brown

You can learn more about using commercially available data for business and consumer marketing by connecting with marketers and market researchers who share your interests, as well as data vendors. These professional associations are a good starting point for making contacts:

Although this list represents only a small portion of the hundreds of data suppliers active in today’s market, even these few provide a wide range of offerings, covering millions of individuals.

Sources for data concerning specific things are not always obvious, but you can usually find an obvious place to start inquiring. If you want data about a product — whether it’s a raw material, a crop, a commodity, or a finished brand-name product — you can find an industry association for the people involved in the making and selling of that product.

Some industry associations commission or conduct their own market research and sell reports and data directly. Even if the one you need doesn’t, its staff or members will still be good contacts to ask about sources of data.

Specialty providers offer a range of other data types. Some categories are fairly easy to find through a simple web search, and may be dominated by one or just a few influential providers. For example, mapping and geographic data is dominated by companies such as ESRI and MapInfo, and weather data by The Weather Company.

Less popular types of data may require a good deal of effort to find. If you have difficulty finding providers through search or referrals, consider consulting a good, old-fashioned resource you may be neglecting: a reference librarian, especially if you can find one who regularly deals with business inquiries.