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Understanding and Using NAICS Codes

Find background and tips on using NAICS codes in a search.

NAICS, North American Industry Classification System, is a five to six digit number created by the government to describe a business based on what it produces and how it produces it. Many companies have more than one NAICS code. Apple, for example, has three different codes: 33419 other electronic component manufacturing, 33410 semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing, and 443143 appliance, television and other electronics stores.

The government routinely revises and updates NAICS codes. The most recent version was published in 2017.

There are several advantages to doing a search using a NAICS code. 

  • Using one to search in First Research (Mergent Intellect) helps assure that you've found ALL of the available info for a given industry. 
  • You can find specific or detailed industry information.  Rather than searching for the topic biotechnology, you can search 339112--surgical and medical instrument manufacturing.
  • Searching by NAICS codes is another strategy to get a listing of individual companies competing within and industry.
  • You can find other industries related to the one you searched using a NAICS code within search results. A search for NAICS code 311991--perishable prepared food manufacturing in Business Source Premier also retrieved 722330--mobile food services. You can get ideas to modify or broaden a search.

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