ReferenceUSA: Your Source for Finding Competitors and Customers


Some of the information in this post may be out of date, as the library no longer subscribes to ReferenceUSA. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

ReferenceUSA, a comprehensive business directory with entries on 14 million businesses ranging in size from small regional “mom and pop” operations to large national and international corporations, provides a search interface that makes this directory a powerful tool for searching for both competitors and potential customers.  Access the database on or off-campus (login with your name and 14-digit barcode number if off-campus) by selecting the database from the Articles & Databases link on the library website.

You will default to the quick search page when you access the database, and though this page will let you quickly search to locate a company or an executive, it is the custom search page that provides powerful searching capabilities.

To locate companies by industry type and located within a particular geographic area:
Select to search by business type (either by major industry group description or by NAICS code) and combine this search with a geography search to retrieve your list of companies.  View this very short video to see how a search is constructed to locate auto body shops in Rhode Island.   Once displayed, the list is sorted alphabetically by towns within the state.  This search is a great way to identify potential customers in a given geographic area.

To locate company competitors:
Select to run a company name search from the quick search page.  When constructing your search, include the company name and the location if you know it.  Run your search and select the headquarters entry if you are searching a large company and want to find competitors for the main business.  Next to the corporate headquarters entry, you will see a corporate family tree icon.  Clicking on this icon will display all the parent company’s subsidiaries and branches.
Once you locate your company, select to display the full company record and expand out the competitor’s report.  This short video will show you how to search a company (example: Hasbro) and view its competitors.

Each individual company record in ReferenceUSA also includes a Management Directory with names of executives that can be used when job searching, Business Demographics that include dollar sales volume and a credit rating, timely Company News articles,  a listing of Brands and Products produced by the company, and link to the current Stock Data (via Google Finance) if the company is publicly-held.

To learn more about ReferenceUSA and its content and search features, Ask a Reference Librarian!