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February 14, 2001 Volume 4 Number 2


* Introduction - Editor's Comments

* What's New at

* Statistics Canada releases

* Researching a Manufacturing Business

* Small Business Stats Facts



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Welcome to this issue of the BR Newsletter.

I would like to start by letting you know the paper version of our research guide "Researching a Small Business 2000" is now sold out. You can still purchase electronic copies of the guide at our web site:


We will not be producing any more print versions as we are currently in the midst of updating and expanding the guide. We hope to have the 2001 issue available in May of this year.

The Toronto Business Development Centre has released its January to June seminar schedule and I am booked to speak on two more occasions on Marketing Research & Analysis. The dates are April 3rd and June 5th. Both are Tuesday nights at 6:30 to 8:30. Free parking. Contact the TBDC for more information 416-345-9437.

I hope you find this issue useful.

Thank you for your subscription.

John White

Editor, BRN






The following web sites were added to the GDSourcing index over the last three weeks. GDSourcing is a reference point for free Canadian statistics on-line.


Canadian Hair Research Foundation

(For links to data see our site summary

- Canadians believe hair loss makes it harder to get a job


Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

(For links to data see our site summary

- Personal Income statistics and analysis

- Winning with e-business - Summary Report (Key findings from an Angus Reid survey assessing the e-business readiness of small and medium-sized Canadian businesses.)


Colliers International Commercial Real Estate

(For links to data see our site summary:

- Commercial/Industrial Real Estate Report

- Hotel Real Estate Report







The following statistics were release by Statistics Canada over the last three weeks. We have listed those releases we feel are of the most interest to Canadian entrepreneurs.

Very few of these statistics are available on-line. The URL listed is a direct link to the press release associated with the data. It provides contact and ordering information.



Chicken production 2000 (preliminary estimates)


Farm product prices January to December 2000


Rural youth migration between 1971 and 1996




Engineering services 1998


Real estate rental and leasing and property management service industry 1998




Computer systems design and related services, software publishers, data processing services, on-line information services 1998




Building permits Annual 2000 and December 2000




Arts, entertainment and recreation 1998


Television viewing Fall 1999


Government expenditures on culture 1998/99




Benchmarking Adult literacy in North America 1994 to 1998


Full-time enrolment in trade/vocational and preparatory/special training 1997/98




Financial performance indicators for Canadian business 1999




Domestic sales of refined petroleum products Annual 2000 and December 2000 (preliminary)


Coal production 2000 (preliminary)


Oil and gas extraction 2000 (preliminary)




Local government enterprises, income and expenses Fiscal year ended nearest to December 31, 1998




Traveller accommodation statistics 1998 (preliminary)




Hate crime 1999




Department store sales and stocks December 2000 and 2000 (preliminary)


Retailing in Canada 1998


Retail Chain and Department Stores Survey 1998







The manufacturing sector accounts for 17.9% of the Canadian economy. It involves everything from the production of automobiles and steel punches to handcrafted pet accessories and high tech water purification devices. Given this range, you can appreciate that this article can only touch on the very basics of researching a manufacturing operation.

Although every manufacturing business has its own unique research needs, there are a few key resources of use to every type of manufacturer.

You first need to determine your Canadian Standard Industrial Classification number. SIC is a 4-digit coding system designed to classify all types of businesses in Canada. There is a new North American Industry Classification System but as yet its implementation in published data is limited. Within a year this system should be in wide spread use.

For now you can conduct a keyword search for your SIC code at the Industry Canada web site:


For full definitions of each SIC code see the Statistics Canada web site:


Once you know your industry code, start your research with the Canadian Industry Statistics section at the Industry Canada web site:


This section contains detailed statistical profiles organized by 4-digit Standard Industrial Classification codes. The data covers industry structure, international trade, sector level performance and key players.

The data for these profiles is sourced from Statistics Canada and is combined with Industry Canada estimates to ensure that data is as current as possible.

Another manufacturing resource at the Industry Canada Strategis web site is the "Guides to Canadian Industries". (See Much of the information provided is generic in nature however the guides do identify relevant industry associations.

The Industry Canada Strategis web site also has a section called Information by Business Sector.

This section is organized alphabetically and includes government and non-government data and reports. Not every manufacturing sector is covered in this section but those that are included are well represented.

Import and export are key factors within the manufacturing sector. Whether or not your business is planning to export you must understand and acknowledge the affect that imported products will have on your market share. Start by looking at the Trade Data on-line web site:

The database can be search by Industry (SIC) or by Commodity (HS - Harmonized System). A helpful feature of this database is that when you search by industry you can examine the growth in the Apparent Domestic Market. Apparent Domestic Market is calculated by adding the value of total manufacturers' shipments to the total value of imports and subtracting the total value of exports. The data should be used with caution but it can be a quick gage of apparent market growth.

You will also want to examine individual commodity import and export figures. The database allows you to search by province and individual country / U.S. state for the last five years.

A related database at the Industry Canada Strategis web site is the Canadian Importers Database.

It allows you to determine the total value of imports of a particular product (10-digit HS code) and the market concentration among importers. It also provides a list of "Major Importers" who collectively account for the top 80% of all imports (in terms of $ value) of a selected product for all of Canada. This list does not include individuals. Keep in mind however that the importer is not necessarily the end-user of the product.

The Statistics Canada web site does not have as detailed information as the Industry Canada sources. There are however two features that provide the most current manufacturing data available. Both can be found in The Daily, Statistics Canada's principle media release vehicle and can be purchased through the CANSIM database.

The first is the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing. The timeliness (2 months from collection to publication) of this survey makes it a vital tool for any manufacturer. It is a quick acid test of the current strength of the sector as a whole.

If you want to consult previous issues or wish to find releases in the future, use The Daily's search engine. (See Under "Search For" change "All these words" to "The phrase" then type in "Monthly Survey of Manufacturing".

Industry detail is not available in the news release but you can purchase it from the CANSIM database for $3 per industry. Data is generally available by 2 digit SIC although in some cases 4-digit detail can be accessed. You receive the entire time series back to 1982 when you purchase this data.

The following data sets are covered:

Value of Shipments

New orders

Unfilled orders

Raw Material Costs

Value of Finished Goods

Inventory Owned

Ratios: Total Inventory owned to Shipments and Finished Products to Shipments

Value of Shipments by Province

If you use the non-seasonally adjusted data you can use the time series to identify seasonal trends within your industry. All the Internet addresses listed above connect to non-seasonally adjusted data. If you want to consult seasonally adjusted data click on "next matrix" at the top of the above pages.

The second timely survey manufacturers should consult is the Quarterly Business Conditions Survey: Manufacturing Industries. This survey covers production prospects, expectations on the level of orders received, unfilled orders and skilled labour shortages.

As before, if you want to consult previous issues or wish to find releases in the future, use The Daily's search engine. (See Under "Search For" change "All these words" to "The phrase" then type Quarterly Business Conditions Survey".


Industry Specific data is not provided in the news release. However you can purchase data for selected trade groups through the CANSIM database.


A trade group refers to a 2-digit SIC number. The first two numbers of the "series number" in the CANSIM database identify the trade group. The charge for this data is $3 per time series. You receive the entire time series back to 1981.

If you have a limited budget you can minimize your costs by only choosing those variables you are interested in. (e.g. If you only focus on negative indicators ($3 x 5 = $15) you know that the outstanding percentage of manufacturers responded that the variable was expected to be the same of better in the near future. The entire data set costs $45 ($3 x 15).

It is important to look at the expectations of your specific trade group when possible. The overall indicators mentioned in the news release can be deceptive. For example newspapers recently reported "a stunning loss of confidence among Canadian manufacturers" when the 1st quarter 2001 expectation survey results were released. Yet this decline in confidence (43% of manufacturers stated they would decrease production in the first quarter) was due almost entirely to two trade groups: transportation equipment (mostly automobile manufacturers) and primary metals industries (most steel manufacturers). While these two sectors are key to overall economic growth, they do not necessary reflect the outlook of your sector.

With this database you can also examine provincial outlooks however no trade group detail is provided:

If you want to examine industry forecasts beyond the next quarter, you are best to consult the economic reports produced by Canada's major banks. While all of them produce regular economic reports that provide provincial and industrial forecasts, the reports available on-line from the Bank of Montreal are the most detailed from a manufacturers point of view.

Especially look at the report "Prospects for Canada's Industries to 2004" listed on the above page

Other Canadian Bank economic sections include:

TD Bank



Royal Bank


(For whatever reason the Royal Bank has decided their forecasts are so special you have to be a customer with a username and password to access them!)

Price fluctuations are very important to every type of manufacturer. This data tells you the current trends affecting the price of your product. Use the Statistics Canada publications Consumer Prices and price indexes (cat#62-010) and Industry price indexes (cat#62-011) to assess those prices most relevant to your business. The Industry price publication includes price indexes for both raw materials and finished goods. This information is vital for predicting cash flow and profit margin. For the most detail available see CANSIM matrices:


One of the best on-line resources for finding manufacturing market data is the Tradeport web site: (click on market research). This web site contains market research reports compiled by the U.S. government to help its own entrepreneurs export into foreign markets.

Canadian entrepreneurs can use the market research reports on Canada to assess domestic demand. While the reports do not cover every type of product manufacturered, there is some very specific information contained in this database. For example there is a report on Paper Recycling Machinery in Canada.

To find out if any reports are relevant to your research needs, you can conduct a keyword search by specific country. Keep in mind however, that this data does not cover the United States.

For U.S. market research reports, you should consult the Canadian department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade web site:

They have a number of reports available covering various products and regions within the United States. Foreign Affairs also has information on other markets around the world and tips on how you can access them.

While all the sources listed above provide a great deal of information it is likely that few of them will address your specific product. In order to focus on your specific product you need to conduct a media search of related articles and to talk to people in your market and industry.

A good place to start your media search is Canada newswire.

It will provide you with a list of publicly traded companies active in your industry and market as well as alert you to any related studies or reports that have been released by associations or research organizations.

If you find any publicly traded companies active in your market consult their annual reports. In the "management discussion and analysis' section you will often find insights into current trends and factors influencing your market as well as industry forecasts.

Do not just look for competitors but potential customers and related products and services. The better you understand your customers, the better you will know how to provide them with the products they need.

We strongly recommend that you use Canadian information first and foremost. Canadian corporate documents can be found at

U.S. corporate documents can be found at Free Edgar


Each specific manufacturing sector also generally has a related industry periodical. Articles within these publications often focus on specific products.

We can not possibly list all relevant publications within this brief article. The Rogers Media site Bizlink  ( provides access to a number of Canadian business periodicals but their list is by no means exhaustive. A general media search can often help you find related publications or at least contacts that might be able to suggest some to you.

You will also want to conduct a general media survey as well. Many manufacturing companies are publicly traded and so this sector receives a great deal of coverage in business sections of newspapers.

Start your on-line search at the Globe Investor web site (

We recommend you contact the Industry Association most closely related to your product line. It is true that many associations do not collect statistics on their industry, but there are also quite a few that are very active in helping their members understand their market and sector. Many have data published at their web sites. A good example is the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association of Canada. Their web site ( has many studies and articles published on this unique market.

While published data is essential to understanding the true nature of your market and industry, nothing can substitute talking to people within your sector. They can provide you with insights based on experience. Do not simply conduct a survey. Have a conversation and start networking yourself and your business. Often a good way to start a conversation is to mention some of the data your have already sourced and ask someone their opinion on it. People love to give their opinion!

Finally we always recommend that manufacturers of consumer related products examine the performance of related retailers. We will examine sources for researching the retail market in a future issue of the BR Newsletter.

For more research advice please see our research guide: Researching a Small Business in Canada




Each Business Researcher Newsletter ends with a collection of five statistics that every entrepreneur should be aware of.


1. What were the top five service-based small businesses in Canada in 1999 ranked by median rate of return on assets?


1. Offices of other social service practitioners.....31.3%

2. Offices of other health practitioners.............28.7%

3. Offices of physicians, general practice...........23.8%

4. Offices of physicians and surgeons, specialists...23.2%

5. Medical laboratories..............................22.7%

Source: Statistics Canada (2001)



2. What were the top five goods-producing small businesses in Canada in 1999 ranked by average rate of return on assets?


1. Other exterior close-in construction work...............13.6%

2. Steel pipe and tube manufacturing.......................11.5%

3. Primary glass and glass containers manufacturing........10.9%

3. Telecommunication equipment manufacturing...............10.9%

5. Communications and energy wire and cable manufacturing..10.7%

Source: Statistics Canada (2001)


3. What province saw the fastest increase in the number of small businesses (less than 100 employees)?




3....Northwest Territories..........2139..........2254...........5.4%


5....New Brunswick.................26750.........27651...........3.4%



8....Nova Scotia...................30295.........31224...........3.1%

9....British Columbia.............150976........154217...........2.1%

10...Yukon Territories..............1642..........1677...........2.1%



Source: Statistics Canada


4. What Census Subdivision / Community in Canada saw the fastest increase in the number of small businesses (less than 100 employees)? (Only communities with 1000 business or more were compared)

GEOGRAPHY....1997 COUNT.....2000 COUNT.....% GROWTH

1....Strathcona County, AB....2106.........2519...........19.6%

2....Caledon, ON.....................1269.........1513...........19.2%

3....Whitby, ON......................1411.........1668...........18.2%

4....Victoriaville, PQ...............1366.........1576...........15.4%

5....Verdun, PQ......................1024.........1174...........14.6%

Source: Statistics Canada


5. What are the top five business opportunities in 2001 according to Profit Magazine?

1. Personal coaches: someone to organize our lives

2. Sex toys: accessories that enhance the romance

3. Teen gadgets: video games, anything wireless

4. Outsourced business services from distribution to Internet strategy

5. Specialist financial advisors, from tax experts to lifestyle confidantes.

Source: Profit Magazine Dec/Jan 2001




G D S O U R C I N G - R E S E A R C H & R E T R I E V A L

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UPDATED: 07/31/03
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