Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Korean traditional markets to gear up with this contemporary fast moving world

In order to promote lower prices at traditional markets (Sijaang) in Korea, various promotional events and policies will be carried forward from the second half of this year.

Starting next year, helpers will be available at most traditional markets to assist consumers.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security along with the Small and Medium Business Administration, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced measures and policies for revitalizing Korea’s traditional markets. Taking one more step forward from their previous policies such as modernization of the markets and limitations on the establishment of super supermarkets (SSMs), the new policies will focus on the continuous growth of the markets and improving their competitiveness.

The main focuses include stressing the strengths of the traditional markets such as price competitiveness, and improving the convenience of shopping using smart devices.

Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul's traditional markets (Photo: Gonggam Korea)

Price disclosure of representative products from traditional markets

A new policy will provide consumers with accurate price information for products at traditional markets. Although most products at traditional markets are priced lower than products at SSMs, most consumers aren’t aware unless they visit the markets. In order to promote the greatest advantage of traditional markets, low prices, a price disclosure system will be applied in the second half of this year.

A total of 16 representative agricultural and marine products of each traditional market will be selected and they will be listed by their average price computed from 38 markets. The price information will be updated every week.

The representative products include: vegetables such as cabbages and radish, meat including Korean beef and samgyeopsal (pork belly), fruit including apples and pears, and seafood such as squid. The prices will be announced via various ways such as a homepage for traditional markets, broadcasting news, or smartphone applications.

Helpers at traditional markets

Starting next year, helpers will be made available at traditional markets nationwide to assist consumers.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism conducted the Munjeonseongsi Project to promote traditional market culture in Korea (Photo: Gonggam Korea)

Finding stores is never easy when entering a huge traditional market, as they are not exactly categorized. As helpers will be available in traditional markets next year, they will guide consumers to the right store and help park cars. The project will also be linked with a senior employment project; it is expected to contribute to job creation for the elderly.

A homepage of traditional markets

Considering the fact that it hasn’t been easy to find information on traditional markets, measures are being taken to improve availability of information.

In the second half of this year, the current homepages of traditional markets will be expanded and revised. Those websites will not only post the prices of representative products but also promote specialties from each region.

In addition, they will offer information on markets that accept traditional market coupons, Onnuri coupons, directions to the markets, and attractions as well as fancy restaurants around the markets in order to attract young consumers. When searching for traditional markets on portal websites, consumers can find arranged information on the markets and their homepages.

Support to establish a village corporation in traditional markets

Starting next year, traditional markets will also be encouraged to establish their own corporation which allows them to increase profits and improve service. There have been several village enterprises in traditional markets in which owners of stores work together on joint-venture projects including lunch box delivery, cultural performances, and use of a common warehouse.

Nambu Market in Jeonju has young sellers who promote the market and their businesses through the Youth Night Market program (Photo: Gonggam Korea)

Tongin Market in Jongno introduced the Lunch Box Café project earlier this year, allowing visitors to buy different types of side dishes from different stores and eat at an arranged place in the market. As it enables consumers to sample various foods at low prices, the project has been successful, serving over 200 customers a day.

As foundation of a village corporation helps traditional markets to innovate new ways to attract more customers, the government will continue to support the establishment of a village corporate within each market.

Smart use of traditional markets

Following the recent online shopping trend, a website that offers various products sold at traditional markets will be established. As consumers will be able to purchase products with their credit cards and Onnuri coupons, it is expected that the online shopping website for traditional markets will contribute to expansion of sales at traditional markets. The market information offered by smartphones and GPS navigation devices will also be reinforced. An application for the convenient use of traditional markets will be equipped with various menus such as a theme search and information on traditional markets nationwide including their location.

A total of 1,517 traditional markets will be registered on GPS navigation systems, with offering information on their operating hours and special goods.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has conducted the Munjeonseongsi (having a constant stream of visitors) Project since 2008 in order to boost sales at traditional markets and make those places into local cultural spaces. The ministry has supported the activation of traditional markets through the Market and Culture Consulting Group composed of experts in various fields including cultural planning, architecture, urban planning, and storytelling. Through the project’s artistic approach, it has successfully activated some traditional markets including Suyu Market in Seoul, Bangcheon Market in Daegu, and Motgol Market in Suwon.

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