Millennials Favor User Generated ContentMillennials. Can’t live with em’, can’t live—or be a successful brand—without ‘em.

Say what you will about this widely misunderstood generation (and I would know, I’m one of them), what really matters in all the talk about Millennials is this: They hold a tremendous amount of buying power. That’s right. Although they may be taking a hit due to economic troubles, sky-high student debt, and lack of career-oriented jobs, they’re buying a lot of things. They’re just doing it in a way that’s vastly different from their parents and their parents’ parents.

Almost 77 million people ages 19 to 36 make up the Millennial generation—which makes them the largest one to date. However, they’re not like their Baby Boomer parents because they grew up with two unique influencers: Technology and choice. While some might mistake this for a sense of entitlement, it’s simply the result of growing up in a world that now offers more choices and possibilities than ever before. And with all of those options, they’ve learned to conduct research before making a decision. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s imperative that marketers adapt to their ways.

To do so, brands must be audience-oriented. According to research from Crowdtap, 38 percent of Millennials want brands to be focused on consumers more than anything else.

One of the most effective ways to showcase your consumer-focused mindset?

By embracing user-generated content (UGC). The data show that 50 percent of Millennials trust user-generated content more than any other media. Millennials spend five hours a day with UGC, with the top three sources including social networks, peer reviews, and conversations with friends; traditional media, such as TV, radio, and print newspaper were the least likely to be trusted. Additionally, consumers of this age bracket were just as likely to trust a peer review as they would a professional one.

And since it’s easier than ever for people to create UGC (thanks to Facebook, Twitter, platforms such as Yelp, and blog posts), it’s important for marketers to foster this type of environment.

But it’s not only about encouraging communication on social media or consumer review platforms such as Yelp. Millennials want brands to learn from their comments as well. Fifty-two percent of Millennials prefer brands that are willing to make changes based on consumer opinions.

But UGC isn’t only great for consumers seeking honest reviews and new products. It also helps brands create a rare, but precious commodity: Loyalty.

According to a study from Adroit Digital, securing the loyalty of this generation is crucial for brands hoping to capture this audience. Why? Because when they do, Millennials are more likely to stick with a brand or product they love, more so than their predecessors; 64 percent of Millennials were more brand-loyal or as brand loyal as their parents.

In order to build that loyalty, brands must first understand what motivates them – the values that influence their day-to-day actions, including what they buy.

For Millennials, their top values are happiness, diversity, passion, sharing, and discovery. By enhancing these values instead of silencing them, brands can begin building a foundation of trust. And the best way to get real with consumers is by creating engaging content that reflects or feeds their values. So whether you educate them, entertain them, or inspire them, they’ll be yours forever.

Developing consumer trust has never been more important, but what are you doing to ensure you don’t fall behind?