Who are the customers? If you customers are individual people, use market research reports to find segmentation, consumer preferences, and buying patterns. If your customers are businesses, use an industry report to find the size of the market, market drivers, and geographic concentration.
What companies are like mine? Industry reports provide information about the industry - all the companies that sell the same product or service. Reports also include largest companies, suppliers, emerging trends and regulatory changes, performance benchmarks, and key business issues.
If you are lucky, there may be a perfect source giving you an overview of your market or industry. Here are some of my favorite sources:
Sometimes these above sources will help you locate some broad categories of information. If you're looking for something more specific though, a good place to turn to is associations. The best way to find the names of these associations is to conduct a simple Google search, with a few modifiers.
Example: Let's say you wanted to find the number of people that attended an orchestral performance. First, you can search Google with the terms "orchestra association" this will bring up a number of associations that might be helpful. Then you just need to browse the web site to find something like this page. The key terms to look for are "quick facts" "statistics" or "publications."
Sometimes the association won't provide the publication for free. In this case please email me the citation and I will see if we have it hidden away in another database.