As a classic baby boomer, I readily admit I have a hard time understanding the younger generation called millenials or Generation Y (age 17-34). But they can’t be dismissed because there are 1.6 billion of them in the world and by 2017 they will outspend my generation.

Like it or not we must deal with this new generation on their terms if we want to succeed in business. That was abundantly obvious from a research study done by Jason Dorsey of the Center for Generational Kinetics and an organization called Bizarre Voice. I gave my business card to Jason at an AHRI meeting where he was the keynote speaker, and he followed up by sending me info on a new study about millenials and their buying habits.

Here are some highlights: 84 percent depend on user-generated content (UGC) to make major purchase decisions. UGC includes reviews and comments on websites and other forms of social media.

Fifty-one percent say websites have a bigger impact on buying decisions than family and friends. Seventy-three percent believe that other consumers care more than companies do. Twenty-nine percent believe companies want to know what they think.

According to Dorsey, “Millenials reduce risk by looking to see what others have said.”

The lesson to be learned is that social media is here to stay and manufacturers, distributors, and contractors need to make it easy for customers to comment on their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Posting customer testimonials on your website and YouTube channel are also a great way to reach this generational audience.

Face it — the millenials just aren’t that into you. They’re more interested in hearing from your customers.