Classification Of Industry

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Industry Classifications

One of the key concepts we aim to understand within Geography relates to the industry environment. What we mean by this applies to the ability to distinguish between the different industry functions. These different sectors play a significant role in our world environment and understanding of the diverse economies. To allow for greater insight into your country’s role in the different sectors, we need to zoom into the meaning of the different industries and classify them accordingly.  

The four key industries we deal with relate to the Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Quaternary Industries. All these different sectors influence our economies, political statuses, relationships with other countries across the world and our local stability. 

Now, generally, each country sits within different development levels. Some countries fall within the developing classification and others in the developed bracket. These different meanings we need to understand because it plays a key role to determine where they link with the diverse industries. Let us see the classification of each industry and determine how they effect on countries abilities to perform.

Primary Industry

To allow for the classification of a Primary Industry we focus on the following key points:

  • The industry focuses on the use or extraction of original material from our earth’s resources. 
  • These industries include fishing, agriculture, afforestation, and mining.
  • They process raw material for transfer to the more advanced sectors, for example, iron ore.
  • They less focus on the determination of value and rather aim to focus on the material itself.
  • Most developing countries rely on the success of the Primary Industry. 
  • Developing and developed countries also use this sector to ensure the provision of diverse employment opportunities to its citizens.
  • This sector provides the bulk of work in developing countries. In the event of an economic downturn, the primary sector struggles significantly. 

Secondary Industry

The Secondary Industry presents a more advanced level with a focus on the production of goods. After the receipt of raw material from the primary sector, they use it to produce vehicles, for example. Some key components that distinguish the secondary from the primary sectors involve the following dynamics:

  • The Secondary Industry seems more complex and takes value add seriously.
  • The industry comprises different processing levels and stages that align with their production levels.
  • They focus on the identification of specific and preferred suppliers as well as markets. Countries that rely on iron ore mining focus on trade agreements with steel production markets for example.
  • The secondary sector offers diverse product lines in different fields. For example, these production capabilities include food processing, light or heavy industries. Also, it involves the production of steel, vehicles, and the occurrence of diverse manufacturing plants. 
  • Developed countries invested a significant effort to expand and grow the industrial sections of their economy. They also advanced this section to a level where it becomes more environmentally friendly.
  • This industry provides significant work opportunities to a large component of a country’s inhabitants and foreign labour market. 
  • It remains an economically fragile sector, especially after the critique they received because of extensive pollution levels in the industries.

Tertiary Industry

The Tertiary Industry offers a more advanced sector than the secondary and aims to focus on the provision of services, mostly. Some key points to remember when understanding the Tertiary Industry includes the following:

  • This industry provides a service and does not focus on the production of goods.
  • The Tertiary Industry focuses on the provision of intangible services and sometimes difficult to measure.
  • The sector aims to concentrate on supporting the Primary and Secondary Industries with filling the gaps in the services sector. One needs to travel to work, and for this reason, we find transport companies, for example. The taxi driver who takes you to the manufacturing company you work for provides you with a service. You do not receive a tangible object that makes the value difficult sometimes.
  • This sector remains difficult to value because of the service-orientated dynamics they carry. The pricing of an intangible service remains complex.
  • Examples of the Tertiary Industry relates to the financial sector, media, pharmaceutical services, legal advice, public health or communication.
  • The tertiary sector normally declines in the event of an economic downturn. It remains a fragile industry to work in. 

Quaternary Industry

The Quaternary Industry focuses especially on the provision of specialised services in the fields of consultancy, research, science, and health for example. This section sometimes overlaps with the tertiary sector but remains unique because of the advanced levels it requires. Some key aspects to remember in the Quaternary Industry relates to the following: 

  • The Quaternary Industry also focuses on the provision of services. It excludes the production of any specific goods.
  • It requires advanced levels of specialisation and highly skilled individuals.
  • This sector sometimes receives the name as a white-collar environment because of the high education levels required.
  • The services connect with the tertiary sectors and provide a more advanced approach.
  • Developed countries, for example, the UK offer significant opportunities to their inhabitants in this sector. Sometimes it expands to over 70% of people working in this environment.
  • Examples of Quaternary Industry services include weather specialists, data analysts, advanced information technology specialists, scientists in different fields, specialised financial services or research and development sectors. 
  • Developed countries focus more on their quaternary sectors than their Primary Industries. 
  • The Quaternary Industry provide intangible services that become difficult to measure. The industry remains fragile because of the human factors embedded in the sector. Humans feel sick during odd days and the performance levels drop. It, therefore, becomes difficult to measure a specific value.
  • Because of the specialised dynamics, this sector remains sensitive. During instability, this sector seems to struggle the most because of its reliance on research funding, for example. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need these different industries?

To ensure the proper planning and management of a country’s international and local affairs, we need to divide the different sectors. It allows us to develop a greater understanding of each industry’s requirements and the skills set they need. Besides, a country reaches the ability to direct its resources and support to the different sectors. Imagine the chaos if we had no control over our different sectors.

Which Industry remains the most important?

Although industries develop signs of progress to different levels, all of them remain key. We cannot develop a tertiary sector without a primary one. Each industry plays a different but important role to maintain our sustainability levels.

When do we talk about a Primary Industry?

We refer to a Primary Industry when we talk about the raw material or extraction industries. They mostly focus on agricultural, afforestation, mining or fishing. This industry aims to collect the earth’s resources for processing by the secondary sectors. 

When do we talk about a Secondary Industry?

We mostly refer to a Secondary Industry when we talk about our industrial areas, for example, motor vehicle plants or steel manufacturing factories. They play a key role to produce goods. These sectors also play a key function to support each country’s economy and form part of diverse trade deals.

When do we talk about a Tertiary Industry?

We talk about Tertiary Industries when we refer to the services environment. For example, if you visit your doctor, it forms part of the tertiary sector. 

When do we talk about a Quaternary Industry?

We talk about a Quaternary Industry when we focus on more advanced services, for example, research and development or scientific services. This sector generally requires advanced educated individuals and received the name of a white-collar industry. 


Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Classification Of Industry". Geography Revision. Accessed on January 26, 2021.

  • "Classification Of Industry". Geography Revision, Accessed 26 January, 2021.

  • Classification Of Industry. Geography Revision. Retrieved from