Professional Associations

Free Market Intelligence for Franchise-Heavy Industries

The other day, a client came to me with an interesting request: How many independent pizza restaurants operate in the US.  After consulting the usual library resources and pizza industry associations, I was still unable to fully answer this question (I had the total number of restaurants, market size etc, but I did not have the number of non-franchise establishments).  I turned to Google for answers and in the process found not only the answer to my question, but also an interesting free resource: Franchise Direct (  What is Franchise Direct?

Franchise direct is a site designed for people who are considering taking the plunge and opening up their own franchise, say a Starbucks, for example.  The site, as far as I can tell, makes money by directing interested parties to franchise opportunities.  To make the site more attractive to prospective franchise owners, Franchise Direct provides industry information for each franchise vertical it profiles, for example coffee houses or housecleaning services. 

How Can Librarians and Researchers Benefit from Franchise Direct?

The reports on Franchise Direct are actually pretty good and typically contain market sizing, demographic, and industry-trend data.  Their data and analysis are not de novo.  The information for their typical industry report comes from major research firms like NDP and Frost & Sullivan, in addition to data from industry associations etc.   Franchise direct also has data on the capital requirements for various franchises, which is an interesting data point in its own right.

Are there any Problems with the Site?

Franchise Direct does have some major drawbacks, though.  Consistency is a big problem for this site.  Some industries have very light industry profiles while others have no information at all.  Thus, mining Franchise Direct for market intelligence is something of a tossup.  You can rest assured that popular franchises like coffee houses or pizza restaurants will have good market reports, while less popular verticals, like courier franchises, will have less attention.  The site, which has been around for approximately 9 years, does not seem particularly interested in filling in these gaps. 

In any case, Franchise Direct is a great resource to keep in your back pocket.  It has very useful market information on consumer industries that have a multitude of franchising opportunities, not to mention details and data on starting a franchise.  Check it out here:

The Gateway to Associations Is Through The ASAE


Happy Friday everyone!  Those who follow bizologie know that we are major advocates for association pages, and we occasionally have Professional Associations Spotlight segments like this one. So what happened when I came upon an association of…wait for it….associations?  Research magic, in the form of a database called the Gateway to Associations, a great free directory courtesy of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), was what happened.

Sure it’s easy to Google for associations; I do it all the time.  But I, like the rest of you, am lazy and rarely go past the second page of results unless I’m digging for info on an erudite topic.  Hence I was delighted when I tested the Gateway database, by doing a search for Association names containing: solar.  I received 18 links to titles including solar associations, corporations, and societies, and they all included the city where they are based.

In comparison if I google for: solar association, I receive 10 results on the front page, not including three advertisements plus a few more links categorized as news.   My results were by no means identical; each (first) page listed associations that the other didn’t, but culling information from multiple sources to acquire a more robust breadth of knowledge is a trademark of our work.

P.S.  Remember to be careful when searching with ultra generic keywords like “green” in a database.  Yes “green” can refer to tree-hugging innovation, but it can also refer to localities with lots of trees, or even just the color.

The Sweet Sound of… Data


I was getting my hipster on, listening to a song called Love Show by Skye, and for whatever deep reason, it prompted me to think about researching the music industry.  Without further adieu, I've put together a list of five great resources, in no particular order, for freely available music industry research: 1.  The RIAA-  Not necessarily the first name we associate with “giving stuff away freely,” but the infamously-terrifying-to-college-students trade group has a research tab that includes downloadable reports on shipment data, music’s economic impact, and of course, the effects of piracy.

2.   The IFPI- aka the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, it’s another major industry trade group akin to the RIAA, and in fact the RIAA links to a handful of the IFPI’s reports from its research page.  Nonetheless, it deserves its own mention, especially for its in-depth Digital Music Report that it has published for five years now.

3.  Digital Music News-  Not only does it sport a spiffy logo, but it also has an excellent selection of industry news and graphic-laden summaries of studies with titles like:  “92% of Music Fans Still Prefer Ownership...”, or “81% of iTunes Collections Never Get Played. Ever...”, or “Whoa: 3 Stores = 94.4% of Indie Digital Revenues...”.  It returned great results with keyword searches like: “study” or “trend” or “marketing”.

4. The business research offshoot of the main Billboard publication, it has several categories of industry news, e.g. retail or branding, plus genre-specific news too, e.g. Latin or Dance.

5.  The Music Business Research Blog- A 2+ year blog that’s going strong, it’s run by Dr. Peter Tschmuck, an industry expert and university professor.  Concerning this endeavor, he states:  “This blog for Music Business Research is designed as a scientific discussion forum on all issues of music business/industry in all its manifestations.”  Not only is it an intelligent blog, but it also includes downloadable theses and papers that were generously contributed for Dr. Tschmuk’s cause.

One Organization To Bring Them All


SCIP used to stand for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, but as of summer 2010 it changed that name to Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.  No matter what name you call it though, the SCIP is an organization dedicated to supporting people who work in the Competitive Intelligence industry. Ever the dutiful researcher, I spent some quality time on their relatively dense website, and here are five key takeaways to consider before taking, what could be a good chunk of time, to visit:

1. Finding:  SCIP is just over 25 years old, and as of now it enjoys participation from just over 20 chapters scattered about the United States.  Conclusion:  The odds for networking look pretty good.

2. Finding:  Not surprisingly, the SCIP’s reports and educational manuals come at a price, but the price point is usually $50-$100 depending on membership status.  Conclusion: These are a good investment in training materials that could become touchstones for a fledgling CI department, or for those who want to cultivate a new skill set.

3. Finding:  The SCIP News Archive has a broad swath of articles about the CI industry, grouped by month, dating back to 1998; unfortunately the only navigation available is scrolling.  Conclusion:  If you want to turn the spotlight around and study CI itself, this is a solid, if slow, place to start.

4. Finding:  The monthly ebulletin dubbed scip.insight., is a compilation of free articles from SCIP bigwigs that have insider perspectives you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.  Conclusion:  It’s much more satisfying for non-members to peruse this resource instead of the magazine, as most of those volumes are password protected.

5. Finding:  As of this writing the job web has 134 highly relevant postings kept up to date.  Three are from this past week alone.  Conclusion:  Bookmark this site if nothing else for the job web, where you’ll find new openings and keep abreast of what the field demands for new hires.

What's Cooking in the Restaurant Business?


With over $604 billion in sales annually, the restaurant industry has a big impact on our nation's economy. The National Restaurant Association's website is a great place to start when researching restaurant statistics and trends and they make it easy for us with a link to their research right at the top.  Here you'll find national, as well as state, restaurant facts. Here are just a few of the facts freely available:

  • There are 960,000 restaurants in the U.S.
  • 12.8 million people are employed in the restaurant industry making it one of the largest private-sector employers
  • 80 percent of restaurant owners started their industry careers at entry-level positions
  • In 2010, Hawaii’s restaurants are projected to register $3.1 billion in sales.
  • 47 percent of adults say they would patronize food trucks
  • 69 percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food grown or raised in an organic or environmentally-friendly way
  • In 2008, there were 38,596 eating and drinking places in New York
  • $2,619 Average household expenditure for food away from home in 2009
  • Restaurants employ 165,200 people in Oregon
  • The overall economic impact of the restaurant industry is expected to exceed $1.7 trillion in 2011

The state reports even break down restaurants by Congressional District. For example, I can see in the Texas report that Lloyd Doggett's district has 1032 restaurants and 22,932 restaurant employees.

You can also find interesting restaurant trends. Each year, the National Restaurant Association conducts a Chef's Survey. Here you can find restaurant trends by category.  In 2011, the biggest overall trend in restaurants is "locally sourced meats and seafood".  The top trend in desserts is "Artisan/house-made ice cream" while the hottest thing in breakfast is" Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)".

And The Oscar Goes To...The Business of The Academy Awards


The countdown to Oscar is on! Will it be The Social Network or The King's Speech? Natalie Portman or Annette Bening? Colin Firth or Jeff Bridges? Well, we can't help you with those questions, but we can offer a little insight on the business side of the Oscars. According to Kantar Media, over that last decade advertisers have spent over $720 million dollars during the Oscar broadcast. This year a 30 second spot will run about $1.7 million. Over the past five years, more than half of the ad revenue has come from only five companies: Coca-Cola, JC Penney, General Motors, American Express and MasterCard International. However, the recession has opened up the way for a few first-time advertisers who were responsible for about 48% of 2010's Oscar advertising. Hate commercials? Good news; the Academy Awards have limited commercial time: just 8-10 minutes per hour. The Super Bowl has about 13-14 minutes per hour while a normal broadcast television show has 14-16 minutes.

If you're looking for more research on the business of movies, the Motion Picture Association of America has a great Policy & Research section on their website. They provide industry reports showing the economic impact of the movie and television production industry as well as state by state statistics. The state statistics are great and show not only economic impact but also the number of movies and television shows filmed in each state as well as each state's production incentives.  Fun facts from the site include:

  • To qualify for incentives in Texas 70 percent of the production crew, actors and extras must be Texas residents
  • The motion picture and television industry is responsible for 8,200 direct jobs and $268.6 million in wages in Oregon.
  • In 2008, 26 movies were filmed in Florida
  • To be eligible for incentives in Colorado, productions must spend at least 75 percent of expenditures in Colorado and 75 percent of the actors and crew must be Colorado residents.
  • Over two-thirds of the population (68%) – or 222.7 million people – went to the movies at least once in 2010.

Going to the Dogs - Pet Ownership Statistics


The American Pet Products Association bi-annual pet owner survey provides stats on pet ownership.  According to the 2009/2010 survey, 71.4 million homes have a pet - 62% of all U.S. households. And there is a lot of money to be made in the pet market. Pet Spending has been on the rise for more than 10 years. In 1994, we spent $17 billion on our furry loved ones and now we spend almost $48 billion per year. The average spending on a dog is $1490 and for a cat it's only slightly lower at $1045.

The 2010 trends for the pet marketing include:

  • Reducing Your Pets Carbon PAW print - more organic foods and toys
  • Going to the Dogs - non-pet companies making goods for dogs like treats and clothing
  • Pets Welcome - more hotels adopting pet friendly policies
  • Pet Products Sold Here - more retail outlets selling pet supplies
  • Hello, My Name Is... - monogrammed accessories for your pals
  • State-of-the-Art - high tech gadgets like digitized collars and touch activated toys

Professional Associations Spotlight: American Society of Plastic Surgeons


While searching for information on how much plastic surgery is paid by insurance and how much is paid out-of-pocket by customers I ran across the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. They publish the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics and have over two decades of plastic surgery statistics. This is a great example of why associations are such an integral part of business research. Associations are completely focused on their area of business and they often survey their members and then publish those results on the web. Not all associations provide information for free, but many do, and if they don't you should pick up the phone and call them and ask for last year's survey or a specific piece of data or table for a discounted price. My motto is always pick up the phone!

The 2010 report doesn't include any payment information but they do provide information about the top procedures by age, and region and even provide national average fees charged for procedures. Plus this year includes a survey of customers done by Harris Interactive on behalf of This 22 page report of 2009 statistics features information like:

  • Procedures were down 3% for the year, but overall that is still $10 billion spent on cosmetic procedures
  • The national average surgeons/physician fee for a face lift was $6,396
  • 5,196,006 reconstructive procedures were conducted
  • The top procedure for men was nose reshaping

Know about an association that's been helpful to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Professional Association Spotlight: National Confectioners Association


Professional associations can be a great source of free information when you're doing business research. And nearly every industry or occupation you can think of has an association. Today we're taking a look at the National Confectioners Association.  See? Business research is fun! Candy is serious business and on the NCA's site you can find out all kinds of information including retails sales figures, seasonal sales figures and annual reports from the industry. While some information is only available to association members, several of the summaries are free, as are the annual NCA Confectionery Industry Reviews back to 2002. Here are just a few of the facts I found freely available on their site:

  • In 2009, Confectionery sales were $29.3 billion with chocolate candy representing about 58% of this total at $16.9 billion.
  • Cocoa prices are at an historic high--one ton of cocoa will cost you around $3500; up from $1500 in 2005.
  • The average U.S. consumer spent $93 on confectionery products in 2008.
  • Halloween leads all other holidays in candy sales--over $2 billion spent annually.
  • When eating candy canes, boys were almost twice as likely to crunch their candy canes than girls (31 percent v. 17 percent).
  • More than 150 million chocolate Santas will be made for the winter holiday season.

They also have the Confectioner and  Snack Source Book where you'll find resources for candy, packaging, services and ingredients.  Looking for a specific candy? Try the Online Candy Catalog. Sadly, still no Kinder Surprise available in the U.S.

In addition to all this great information, they've also got a recipe page.

Know about an association that's been helpful to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Hershey's S'More Cookie Bars

Author: Hershey's

S'More Cookie Bars Ingredients: 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars 1 cup marshmallow creme

Instructions: 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.


Professional Associations Spotlight: National Sporting Goods Association

Snowboarding Wallpaper 13

Professional associations can be a great source of free information when you're doing business research. And nearly every industry or occupation you can think of has an association. Today we're taking a look at the National Sporting Goods Association. They've got a great site and they make it really easy by having a tab right at the top labeled "research".  Here you'll find several reports not only about consumer purchases, but also sports participation.

Using Snowboarding as our example, here are some facts you can find on the NSGA's page:

  • In 2010, consumers are expected to spend $294 million on snowboarding equipment.
  • Of the households surveyed, about 6.2% of them participated in snowboarding in 2009--a 5.7% increase over the previous year.
  • Women represent about 30% of the snowboarders in the US.
  • Snowboarding tops the charts for Sports with over a 15% Change in Participation since 1999 with an increase of 76.7%.

You can also find reports on Participation by 45-54 Year Olds, Youth Sports Participation and Participation by State. Who knew Kentuckians loved paintball so much? Or that the top participation sport in Texas was not football, but water skiing?

In addition to their research, the National Sporting Goods Association page also has directories, news and publications.

Got an association that's been a great resource for you? Tell us about it in the comments.

In the Market for Housing Data? No Shortage of Free Resources

house for sale

Whether you're looking for new home sales, existing home sales, median prices or foreclosure information, there are several free resources to offer assistance when researching housing data. The US Census Bureau's Economic Indicators site has information on new home sales, building permits, Home Ownership Rates (HR), Rental Vacancy Rates (RVR) and Homeowner Vacancy Rates (HVR). They also have a page for New Residential Sales Index and as part of the 2011 Statistical Abstract, you can find Construction & Housing: Housing Sales providing such data as Price Indexes of New One-Family Houses Sold, by Region or Existing One-Family Homes Sold and Price by Region.

RealtyTrac provides statistics and trends for foreclosures across the country. You can find things like foreclosure activity counts, a national Foreclosure Rate Heat Map, foreclosure average prices and top foreclosure cities (1. Las Vegas 2. Chicago 3. Phoenix 4. Miami 5. Los Angeles).

The National Association of Realtors also provides housing statistics including things like Existing Home Sales, Pending Home Sales, Metropolitan Area Prices, State-Existing Home Sales and the Housing Affordability Index.

You can also find information specific to your own state. For instance, in Texas, the Texas Controller's Office publishes the Comptroller's Economic Outlook which includes housing statistics specific to Texas.  State Universities can be a wealth of information, as well. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University provides "Residential home sales, listings, price activity and affordability for over 40 Texas metropolitan MLS (Multiple Listing Service) areas."

Not only do these sites provide great information, several of them package it for you, as well. So if you're looking for a pre-made PDF chart or an Excel sheet with all the data, sometimes they've done the work for you. Got other housing data sites you love? Tell us about them in the comments.