The general expectation is that online groups should be natural for a Younger target audience. All the online groups we have conducted however show that older consumers (40+ y.o.) are more insightful on an online group discussion.
There are 2 main reasons for this:
Multi tasking distracts
Youth as we know are multi taskers. Even though invited for a session the delayed response indicates they are busy surfing the net, listening to music, answering emails or watching You Tube while ‘attending the group’
The OMG syndrome
Being used to virtual world language and expressions, often participation is in the form of exclamations (OMG, LOL, WTF, TTYL etc.) and of course the inevitable emoticons. While this does show level of enthusiasm and animation/involvement in an issue it does not really provide much depth or texture and dimensions to the discussions.
The older generation’s behaviour on the other hand is more similar to their real life one. Once they commit to the discussion you have their undivided attention and considered response to the issues raised.
So, we would dare to go against the current trend in the Qualitative market research industry of reliance on online groups to suggest that online Youth engagement is more effective if it in the form of quick polling, bulletin boards, online communities and virtual diaries. Online groups for the time being are most suitable for the 40 y.o.