JoongAng Media Network has recently undertaken several different initiatives in the e-commerce realm.

The first is an agricultural products commerce site, Nong-MarD, that opened July 1, 2014. Nong-MarD is a coined word meaning “dedicated to farmers heart.”

This local agricultural market is connecting farmers to citizens, informing readers of reliable agricultural products with transparency as to the producers.

Media takes on the role of educator, informing consumers of the details of origins of their farmed products and where they come from. The priority is making the product very localised.

“As media is two-sided market connecting consumers and company, the e-commerce strategy of JoongAng Ilbo is connecting farmers and readers through the reliable story,” says Choi Young Min, digital team leader. Connecting the Nong-MarD agricultural marketplace to the JoongAng brand creates confidence on the side of the readers.

“If we report the story of unknown agricultural products and producers, readers will purchase the products [because of] trust in our brand. It will help improve profits for farmers and activate the local economy.”

Choi says that while e-commerce sales are an important goal, revenue is not the main goal of Nong-MarD: “We build trust between farmers and readers, taking a little profit.”

He adds that today, media companies globally are facing a reduction in the number of readers. The e-commerce strategy at JoongAng is aimed at not only increasing revenue, but also in building the loyalty of existing subscribers.

The company chose the agricultural market because of the competitiveness of the marketplace. With so many e-commerce products available on the Internet, JoongAng wanted to find a niche in which they wouldn’t have to compete directly with other online companies.

From a news perspective, the company plans to report agricultural stories on the farmers through its group of newspapers, magazine, and television. For example, the JTBC morning show GGulDanJi will be broadcasting a story about agricultural producers from JoongAng.

The initiative has seen good results. After articles about one agricultural product ran in JoongAng Ilbo in 2012, the producer saw an increase in sales of more than 1,200%, going from 2.5 billion Won (US$2,456,175) to 30 billion (US$29,474,100). Choi says that the company expected sales to rise 10 times that during the Korean Thanksgiving period.

“The press coverage contributes to public value of regional economic activation. It also creates a good market for agricultural producers, while introducing good products to the readers. The purchase of goods on the basis of customers’ trust in the media brand is a new way to sell products. E-commerce is a stage of us self-testing our media brand.”