Millennials' spending power and influence offer vast business opportunities, but as technology and communication have evolved, companies have had to adapt to the group's changing consumption and spending patterns.  Helping to remedy the difficulty of reaching the Millennial generation with traditional marketing techniques, a recent study sheds light on the types of media its members pay attention to and trust. 

At the South by Southwest conference in Austin, social influence marketing platform Crowdtap presented a study focused on the media consumption and perception patterns of Millennials (defined as people ages 18 to 36).

Conducted in partnership with media research company Ipsos Media CT and social enterprise company SMAC, the study looked at how Millennials respond to different types of media--traditional forms like television and print, as well as online content and both online and offline user-generated content (UGC). It found that user-generated content (content that originates from peers and drives conversations) accounts for 30 percent of Millennials'  media consumption, and that the group prioritizes social networking over all other media types.

"Media consumption is no longer something that is sequential. Today's brands can't just focus on where someone is--they are on all types of media at all times. They need to focus on where consumers are most engaged to cut through the noise," says Anna Kassoway, Crowdtap's chief marketing officer.

From the 839 survey responses, researchers gleaned that Millennials are "always on." The group spends an average of 17.8 hours a day with media. (For respondents who consumed multiple types of media at once, the time spent with each individual type was counted toward the total.)

"When you think about the places where marketers are spending a good portion of their dollars, it is in [traditional media], while [Millennials] are spending more time with content that is user-generated," says Brandon Evans, CEO of Crowdtap.  

But quite possibly the most compelling statistics from the study for business owners are that Millennials trust UGC 50 percent more than other forms of media and that they find UGC to be 35 percent more memorable than other forms of media. As a result, 53 percent of those surveyed said that UGC influences their purchasing decisions. To put this number in perspective, the study found that all other forms of media combined only influence the purchasing decisions of 44 percent of those surveyed.

"Users' attention and time is with UCG and they are trusting it," Kassoway says. "Millennials are inundated with messages all day long from different sources, so it is really great to know that UGC gets Millennials' attention and that they will be more likely to remember conversation that is delivered through something that is coming from their peers."

So the message for businesses is that the key to boosting sales isn't traditional, expensive advertising and marketing campaigns, but rather finding a way into conversations between Millennials. Kassoway stresses that if a brand is able to get its message into user-generated content, it will have a real advantage in terms of influence.

"Conversations historically have always been an incredible driver for brands and purchasing," Kassoway says. "Social media has made these conversations with peers public and has given them greater scale and reach. That is a really big shift."