NEW YORK — Retailers and vendors alike are depending on shoppers to come out in full force this Valentine’s Day. After what can only be described as a lackluster Christmas holiday season, many prestige beauty executives are hoping that love will not only make the world go round but also jump-start their first-quarter sales.

According to Andrea Robinson, president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide at L’Oreal USA, Valentine’s Day has become increasingly more important in regard to sales. “It’s huge for us,” she said. “After all, we have the perfect fragrance with the perfect name. It is one of our yearly objectives to own the holiday.”

For Ralph Lauren Fragrances, this means store events and gift sets. The company is playing up Ralph Lauren Romance with a series of events held with participating retailers. Personalized love notes are available as well as personalized engravings on both the silver tags adorning bottles of Ralph Lauren Romance and Romance Men as well as on the bottles themselves. Romance gift sets, created especially for the holiday, are also available for both women and men.

“We put a lot of wonderful collateral out — heart-patterned bags, engravings, gift boxes,” said Robinson. “We really try to dominate the department. It is a last-minute shopping day. People shop the day before and the day of.” The industry average is to do 6.6 percent of sales for the year in February, she said, adding that Ralph Lauren does about 10.4 percent with the Romance franchise alone.

Although the holiday’s sales might not be the most accurate barometer for predicting Mother’s Day figures, Robinson did note that she was looking forward to seeing how the company’s newest introduction, Glamourous, will do on both occasions.

While he called it “the best week in February” for fragrance sales, Dan Brestle, group president for The Estee Lauder Cos. Inc., said he didn’t see the holiday as a significant part of sales. “It will be the strongest week of the month, but it’s more of a two-day affair,” he said. “It’s not a build-type business.” Acknowledging the current challenges in the fragrance business, Brestle added: “The challenges are less about the holidays and more about reinventing the category. Tying a brand into a lifestyle is one way to accomplish that — as with Jo Malone and with the new Kate Spade collection. It makes it more personal and more appealing to consumers. We’ve got to get creative — the old ways of marketing just don’t work anymore.”

“[Valentine’s Day] is our number one week of the first quarter,” said Nicholas Munafo, vice president of marketing for Adipar. For the full month of February, the firm is marketing a special Escada Sentiment Valentine’s Day set that retails for $50 and includes a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum and a 1.7-oz. tube of body lotion.

Valentine’s Day “is a very short time frame,” Munafo added. “You’re really talking two or three days, so it’s very important to be visually impactful and have promotions that are in-and-out to capture that customer.”

In addition to Escada, Adipar markets Burberry fragrances and business is booming for both brands, according to Munafo. “Right now, we’re experiencing double-digit growth in both houses.”

Indeed, many other beauty companies are gearing up for the holiday as well. Avon is offering limited-edition lipsticks in heart-patterned cases and nail polishes in heart-shaped bottles. Shade names include Petal Kiss, Chocolate Kiss, Cinnamon Kiss and Berry Kiss. Polishes retail for $3.95 and lipsticks for $6.50. Lancome is also focusing on kisses with a special lip palette called Sweet Hearts. The palette offers three shades of pink — Hug Me, Kiss Me and Love Me — and is packaged in a matte silver compact. It sells for $19.50.

Estee Lauder has two Pleasures fragrance gift sets for Valentine’s Day as well as a 1-oz. bottle of Beautiful, in a pink organza sleeve. The Pleasures Heart’s Delight set includes a 3.4-oz. eau de parfum spray, body creme and a pink heart-shaped mirror. It retails for $60. The Pleasures for Men gift set, packaged in a metal tin, features a 3.4-oz. cologne spray, Total Performance Comfort Shave Gel and Total Performance Oil-Free Moisturizer. It sells for $48.50. The Valentine’s Day version of Beautiful is $39.50.

On Wednesday, Valentine’s Day eve, Vera Wang’s signature fragrance will make its debut at Saks Fifth Avenue and Wang herself is scheduled to make an appearance on the day of the launch. The wedding day-inspired scent has notes of Bulgarian rose, calla lily, mandarin flower, gardenia, lotus, iris, white stephanotis, sheer musks, white woods and precious floral nectar. The scent is available in a 1-oz. parfum for $300; a 0.5-oz parfum for $150; a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum spray for $60; a 3.4-oz. size for $85, as well as in a variety of ancillary items.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret is offering a gift set featuring its newest fragrance Very Sexy For Him, called A Very Sexy Valentine Bare Essentials. The set, at $45, features a 1.7-oz. Very Sexy For Him Cologne Spray and a 2.6-oz. Very Sexy For Him Deodorant. For the ladies, VS has the limited-edition Hot Lips Sampler, a compact featuring 10 oversprayed shades of Smooth Talk lip color for $25 and the Pink Laced With Love gift set that contains a 1.7-oz. bottle of Pink and a 3.4-oz. lotion for $48.

Tony & Tina is also thinking pink for Valentine’s Day with its Love Set. The set, which retails for $25, includes nail polish in Unconditional Love, lip gloss in Cosmic Druidess and shimmer in Higher Love.

Also, Stila launched a limited-edition lipstick trio on Jan. 15, consisting of three shades of red — Salome, Cleopatra and Delilah — for Valentine’s Day. The colors retail for $16 and come in special matte red paper. A total of 5,000 units of each shade were shipped throughout the 212-door distribution.

Meantime, Tommy Hilfiger is offering two fragrance gift sets — Tommy On Air and Tommy Girl Be Mine — in reusable fabric containers. On Air features a 3.4-oz. Tommy cologne spray and a body wash for $45; and Be Mine includes a 3.4-oz. bottle of Tommy Girl cologne spray and body lotion for $49.

The love has spread to the Internet as well. The Lippmann Collection, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann’s line of prestige polishes, is offering online shoppers a free bottle of My Funny Valentine — a classic red shade — with the purchase of any other two nail lacquers now through Valentine’s Day. MAC is offering four Valentine’s Day “love sets” through its Web site. The MAC sets range from $23.50 for Underage Tinted Lip Glass and Little Tease Lip Pencil to $67.50 for Sequin Frost Lipstick, Varneesh MAC Lacquer, Lip Conditioner, Plum Lip Pencil and a lip brush.

– Cassandra Chiacchio with contributions by Matthew W. Evans and Julie Naughton.

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