Industry Groups: Definition, Impact, and Investment Strategies


Industry groups play a crucial role in categorizing companies based on common business lines. The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) is the gold standard for this classification, influencing how investors analyze and navigate the market. Explore the nuances of industry groups, their impact on market sectors, and their relevance to investors.

Understanding industry groups

An industry group is a method of classifying individual companies or stocks based on shared lines of business. This categorization aids investors in comprehending market trends and identifying potential investment opportunities. The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS), a collaboration between MSCI Inc. and S&P Dow Jones Indices, stands as the definitive system for industry groups in the United States.

The significance of GICS

MSCI and S&P emphasize that GICS has been widely adopted by various market participants, including asset managers, brokers, and research analysts. The system provides a common global standard, enabling stakeholders to identify and analyze companies consistently. GICS undergoes an annual review to accommodate economic evolution, reflecting shifts toward technology and knowledge-based industries.

GICS industry groups

Currently, GICS encompasses 25 industry groups, covering a diverse range of sectors such as Automobiles and Components, Energy, Technology Hardware, and Telecommunication Services. The classification fosters a common language among market participants, enhancing communication and understanding.

Industry group vs. Market sector

An industry group differs from a market sector, with GICS including 11 sectors, 25 industry groups, 74 industries, and 163 sub-industries. While a market sector is typically broader, industry groups like utilities, materials, and energy can also be market sectors. Understanding this distinction aids investors in compartmentalizing the market and interpreting daily activities.

Investing by industry group

Investors can participate in specific industry groups through investment vehicles like exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Examples include the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE), VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH), and iShares U.S. Real Estate Fund (IYR). These funds allow targeted exposure to industries, providing diversification benefits.

Other usages of industry group

The term “industry group” extends beyond classification, referring to companies actively collaborating to address industry challenges. From information sharing to structured professional organizations engaging in research and development, industry groups serve various purposes within a sector.

Utilizing industry group information for investment strategies

Understanding industry groups is not only about classification but also about leveraging this knowledge for strategic investments. Investors can analyze the performance of specific industry groups and tailor their investment strategies accordingly. For instance, if there’s a growing trend in the Technology Hardware and Equipment industry group, investors might consider allocating more resources to related stocks or funds.

Industry group changes: Navigating market shifts

The dynamic nature of the economy leads to changes in industry groups over time. Understanding how and why industry groups change is crucial for investors to adapt to market shifts successfully. For example, the renaming of Telecommunication Services to Communication Services in 2017 reflects the evolving landscape of information transmission platforms. Being aware of such changes helps investors stay ahead of trends and make informed decisions.

Pros and cons


Here are the advantages and disadvantages of navigating industry group changes.

  • Stay ahead of evolving market trends.
  • Identify emerging opportunities in new industry classifications.
  • Potential uncertainty during transitional periods.
  • Adjustments in investment strategies may be required.


Understanding industry groups and their role in the broader market is essential for investors. GICS serves as the backbone of this classification, providing a standardized approach. Whether tracking market trends or exploring investment opportunities, industry groups offer valuable insights that contribute to informed decision-making.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of industry group classification?

Industry group classification serves the purpose of organizing individual companies or stocks based on shared business lines. This classification aids investors in better understanding market trends and making informed investment decisions.

How does GICS impact investment strategies?

The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) plays a significant role in shaping investment strategies. By categorizing stocks into industry groups and sectors, GICS provides a standardized framework for investors to analyze market trends, identify opportunities, and allocate resources strategically.

Can investors modify their portfolios based on industry group trends?

Yes, investors can modify their portfolios based on industry group trends. Understanding the performance of specific industry groups allows investors to adjust their portfolios to capitalize on emerging opportunities or mitigate risks associated with certain sectors.

Are industry groups static or do they evolve over time?

Industry groups are not static; they evolve over time. GICS undergoes an annual review to accommodate economic shifts and technological advancements. Changes in industry group names and classifications reflect the dynamic nature of the economy and its impact on different sectors.

What are some examples of investment vehicles for industry groups?

Investors can engage with specific industry groups through various investment vehicles. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) and VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) offer targeted exposure to specific industries, providing diversification benefits within an investor’s portfolio.

Key takeaways

  • Industry groups are a vital classification method, organizing companies based on common business lines for investors’ better comprehension.
  • The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) serves as a standardized framework, influencing investment strategies by categorizing stocks into 25 industry groups and 11 sectors.
  • Investors can leverage industry group information to strategically modify their portfolios, aligning with emerging trends and opportunities within specific sectors.
  • Industry groups are dynamic and evolve over time, reflecting economic shifts and technological advancements, as seen through GICS’ annual review and updates.
View article sources
  1. Industry Groups – MHI
  2. Australian Industry Group – Wikipedia
  3. Industry Group Definition: 110 Samples – LawInsider