U.S. Commercial Industry Market Research Library is free and lets you choose a variety of industries, regions, and countries. Data is compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.
Company & Industry searches need to go around the world, too.
A good source that is now open is World Bank.
Its OpenData project was announced in 2010, with over 2,000 indicators from World Bank datasets. A rich homepage with daily graphs brings you the world, at a glance. Use data by country, topic, indicator. iPhone app available.
People and associations love to talk about what they do–and they enjoy talking to students.
Associations Unlimited lets you search by subject or keyword to identify groups that can help you. Easy to use, it lets you search location, acronym, expert search, and more. Regional, state, and national organizations are included. Results give you more clues on where they are, what their members do, with whom they are affiliated, awards they've own, publications they host.
Following are 3 databases of full text reports produced by private market research companies. Each has its own area of focus.
Industry codes are helpful in standardizing the number for an industry so it has the same meaning across different topics and the country. Once you use them, you'll see their value–you can use the industry code for a certain type of manufacturing in any database.
NAICS is a number assigned to industry segments. It means North American Industry Classification System and was adopted in 1997 when the older SIC codes did not have newer technologies and industries in it. Since NAICS uses more numbers, the codes can represent more specific industry levels. Since SIC was long-established, however, many people still use it. You can use both, but for newer industries it is best to use NAICS. NAICS codes are maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau.
SIC numbers are shorter, and were the original codes that mean Standard Industrial Classification System. Both systems allow you to locate the primary industry (Primary Metals) and then expand the number tree to get to smaller sections for manufacturing, mining, foundries, rolling, casting, products, etc.
Note that the industries codes are for general areas–they will not get to extremely specific definitions. If you are having trouble finding your new product item, back up a level in how you'd describe it–you'll probably find the right industry area when you think larger rather than smaller.