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Marketing Research Guide

Explore DiPietro Library's collection of databases and other resources related to marketing

What is a NAICS Code?

The North American Industry Classification System or NAICS  is used by business and government to classify business establishments according to type of economic activity or type of industy

NAICS codes are hierarchical

The codes are 6 digits long, but you can use just part of the code in order to search a broader group of industries. For instance, "Confectionery Manufacturing from Purchased Chocolate" has the code 311330, but the shorter 3113 works for all of the different industries that fall under "Sugar and Confectionery Product Manufacturing". If you're searching using an NAICS code and you're not finding much, try lopping a digit or two off of the end of the full 6-digit code and you may have better luck.

NAICS codes are used everywhere

Just like at McDonald's, sometimes it's easier to order by number instead of by name. You can search in Business Source Complete by searching for your NAICS code and choosing "IC NAICS Code or Description" from the drop-down menus on the main search screen. Likewise, Hoover's includes NAICS codes in its search interface.

Finding the right code

You can often find a NAICS code by searching  Hoover's Online or Business Source Complete for specific companies or industries

The next-easiest thing is to go into the printed reference book that lists all the NAICS codes, shelved at REF HF1041.5 .N67 2012. The table of contents and index are very useful.

Nested lists of NAICS codes can be found on the NAICS section of the Census website, but the keyword search tool does not work very well or intuitively - it's usually easier to start with the printed book, if you weren't able to find the NAICS for a similar company on Hoover's.

NAICS breakdown

Sector numberDescription
11 AgricultureForestryFishing and Hunting
21 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
22 Utilities
23 Construction
31-33 Manufacturing
42 Wholesale Trade
44-45 Retail Trade
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing
51 Information
52 Finance and Insurance
53 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises
56 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
61 Education Services
62 Health Care and Social Assistance
71 ArtsEntertainment, and Recreation
72 Accommodation and Food Services
81 Other Services (except Public Administration)
92 Public Administration

U.S. Census . North American Industry Classification System. U.S. Census, 2012. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2012>.