American women in the commercially lucrative 25 to 54 year-old age range have much more on their minds today than five years ago and more things competing for their attention, leaving little time for commercial messages, according to a survey conducted by Ketchum, which launched a practice group targeting such women last year.

The survey found that 58 percent of women aged 25 to 54 say they have “much more” on their minds now than five years ago. That’s 18 percent higher than that of the total public, 20 percent higher than men ages 25 to 54, and 35 percent higher than men in general.

Women 25 to 54, the survey found, are more likely to have many things competing for their attention, and also are more easily distracted. In addition, they’re 70 percent more likely to report feeling pulled in different directions than are men, and 74 percent of them spend more time thinking about other’s needs than their own, which is a higher percentage than other groups.    

“What the survey makes very clear is that women ages 25 to 54 are ‘multi-minding’ today—they’re constantly physically and mentally juggling those multiple facets of their complex lives,” says Kelley Skoloda, director of Ketchum’s global brand marketing practice. “The previous term used to describe these women—‘multitasking’—is passé because it doesn’t capture the myriad dimensions of their lives.”

Skoloda is the architect of the new practice at Ketchum, which targets female consumers with a customized four-phase communications program that identifies, creates and delivers credible messaging that connects quickly and completely to a demographic group that controls the bulk of the $3.3 trillion in consumer spending that women in the U.S. influence today.

Sixty-two percent of the women surveyed say they have little time for such messages, with nearly two in five women 25 to 54 acknowledging they have to read or hear something more than once because they’re often distracted or interrupted. That’s much higher than the total public and also their male counterparts. 

In addition, 59 percent “rarely” or “never” read a newspaper from beginning to end, compared to 52 percent for the total public and 51 percent for men in the same age group; only half (51 percent) “frequently” watch a television program from start to finish, compared to 60 percent of men and 55 percent of the total public; and just 47 percent frequently listen to the radio for more than 30 minutes straight versus 62 percent of their male counterparts.

The survey also found that women aged 25 to 54 trust experts the most for information (27 percent), followed closely by family and friends (26 percent). And nearly one in four (23 percent) cites media reports as the most credible sources of information. Marketing, however, isn’t likely to be considered credible, with direct mail (3 percent) and advertising (2 percent) at the bottom of the list.              

“Though women 25 to 54 respect the media as a credible source of information, they don’t have a lot of time to absorb the information,” says Skoloda. “So offering shorter chunks of information for women to digest likely will cut through the clutter.

“And because these women spend a significant amount of time thinking of others, marketers likely can tap into women 25 to 54 by showing them how their products and services can help them take even better care of others, and themselves.”