Industry classification or industry taxonomy is a type of economic taxonomy that classifies companies, organizations and traders into industrial groupings based on similar production processes, similar products, or similar behavior in financial markets.

National and international statistical agencies use various industry-classification schemes to summarize economic conditions. Securities analysts use such groupings to track common forces acting on groups of companies, to compare companies' performance to that of their peers, and to construct either specialized or diversified portfolios.[1]

Sectors and industries

Economic activities can be classified in a variety of ways. At the top level, they are often classified according to the three-sector theory into sectors: primary (extraction and agriculture), secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary (services). Some authors add quaternary (knowledge) or even quinary (culture and research) sectors. Over time, the fraction of a society's activities within each sector changes.

Below the economic sectors are more detailed classifications. They commonly divide economic activities into industries according to similar functions and markets and identify businesses producing related products.

Industries can also be identified by product, such as: construction industry, chemical industry, petroleum industry, automotive industry, electronic industry, power engineering and power manufacturing (such as gas or wind turbines), meatpacking industry, hospitality industry, food industry, fish industry, software industry, paper industry, entertainment industry, semiconductor industry, cultural industry, and poverty industry.

Market-based classification systems such as the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS), the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) and The Refinitiv Business Classification (TRBC) are used in finance and market research.

List of classifications

A wide variety of taxonomies is in use, sponsored by different organizations and based on different criteria.

Abbreviation Full name Sponsor Criterion/
Node count by level Issued
ANZSIC Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification Governments of Australia and New Zealand 1993, 2006
BICS Bloomberg Industry Classification Standard[2] Bloomberg L.P. 10/.../2294
GICS Global Industry Classification Standard Standard & Poor's, MSCI market/
2-8 digits
1999–present (2018)
HSICS Hang Seng Industry Classification System[3] Hang Seng Indexes Company Revenue source 11/31/89
IBBICS Industry Building Blocks[4] Industry Building Blocks Market line of business 19/130/550/3000/20200 2002
ICB Industry Classification Benchmark FTSE market/
11/20/45/173 2005–present (2019)
ISIC International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities United Nations Statistics Division production/
4 digits
1948–present (Rev. 4, 2008)
MGECS Morningstar Global Equity Classification System[5] Morningstar, Inc. Securities behavior 3/14/69/148
NACE Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community European Union production/
6 digits 1970, 1990, 2006
NAICS North American Industry Classification System Governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico production/
6 digits
17/99/313/724/1175 (/19745)1
1997, 2002, 2012, 2017, 2022
RBICS FactSet Revere Business Industry Classification System FactSet, acquired in 2013[6] line of business 11000
SIC Standard Industrial Classification Government of the United States production/
4 digits
1004 categories
1937–1987 (superseded by NAICS, but still used in some applications)
SNI Swedish Standard Industrial Classification Government of Sweden
TRBC The Refinitiv Business Classification Refinitiv market/
10 digits


2004, 2008, 2012, 2020[8]
UKSIC United Kingdom Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities Government of the United Kingdom 1948–present (2007)
UNSPSC United Nations Standard Products and Services Code United Nations Product 8 digits (optional 9th) (four levels) 1998–present

See also


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about GICS". MSCI. Archived from the original on 25 January 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Reference Data". Bloomberg Professional Services. Archived from the original on 24 March 2021. Retrieved 5 Oct 2020.
  3. ^ "Hang Seng Industry Classification System" (PDF). Hang Seng Indexes Company Limited. 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Industry & Company LOB Information". Industry Building Blocks. Archived from the original on 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  5. ^ ""Morningstar Global Equity Classification Structure", May 24, 2011" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on February 19, 2018. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "Alternative Data | FactSet". Archived from the original on 2020-04-26. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  7. ^ "The Refinitive Business Classification" (PDF). Refinitiv. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 9 Oct 2020.
  8. ^ "The Refinitiv Business Classification Methodology" (PDF). Refinitiv. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 6 Oct 2020.

Further reading