Warning: Epic TLDR post follows....
On the subject of "Artisan", when I first got into the gourmet food business many many years ago, the company I work for sold its products as artisinal, because they actually were. We specialized in hand-made, very-limited-distribution niche products. "Artisinal" was a buzzword popularized in the Bay Area niche gourmet scene of the time, largely thanks to a book called "Italian Food Artisans", which featured the producers of some of the products we sold. We've had many laughs over the years watching "atisan" get attached to wider and wider products until it lost all meaning (a couple of years ago, Safeway, the huge grocery chain conglomerate, advertised their deli sandwiches as being made with "artisan bread" - that's when we knew it was over...)
Af for distribution, with proper distribution, it's possible to make a hit out of most anything, provided it's at least industry-standard. Speaking mostly for America, in most areas, aside from shopping on the internet, it's simply impossible to purchase "niche" products. From CD's to pasta to cologne, thanks to big box stores, omnipresent chains, and distribution deals, the only things that make it most shelves are there thanks to a combination of marketing money spent, millions spent on brand recognition, and slotting fees demanded by stores for shelf space. Niche products not backed up by giant corporations could never afford the distribution and marketing required to be available everywhere, which is required to be popular.
To put it in perfume terms, no matter how well-respected L'Air du Desert Marocain may be among more educated fragrance aficionados, you'll never see it at Macy's. Ever. Macy's doesn't have some perfume specialist trolling the internet looking for the next big thing. Their shelf space is paid for by LVMH, Coty, etc. and an individual perfumer like Tauer could never afford it. The quality of the fragrance is of no consequence, as long as basic quality standards are met (as stated before, no matter what a company spends on advertising or marketplace saturation, people are still smart enough to not buy something they think is bad). But as long as the quality is industry-standard, the rest is marketing and distribution.
The end result of this mass-distribution dilemma is sort of a false sense of choice. For a long-winded example, there's an idea put out by Alice Waters about Denny's as a symbol of America. When you go to Denny's (America's ubiquitous diner chain), you get a giant menu, with many pages of pictures of all sorts of food. But if you look closely, you quickly realize that they have just a few (poor-quality) ingredients, arranged in tons of different combinations. You can get the same crappy frozen chicken breast on a sandwich, or a salad, or on pasta, or in a special chicken dinner. There are tons of choices, but it's all the same crap, albeit dressed up differently.
This makes a brilliant metaphor for American politics, as well as the false sense of choice presented to the typical American consumer. The endlessly-changing perfume counters at Macy's could be seen as this, as well. Ooh, there's a new Michael Kors fruity floral for Mothers Day! It looks like more choice, but it's just that same crappy frozen chicken breast on a new plate.
So can high-quality product still become a hit? Sure, given that it has the distribution and marketing behind it, and provided it's coming out of a giant company. That means that the real question is whether or not the current situation would even make it possible for a giant conglomerate to come up with a truly top-quality product.
I would argue, sadly, that the answer is currently "no."
The cost-per-bottle requirements for mainstream scents insures no quality ingredients can be used, while the current state of using corporate aroma chemical labs to generate scents ensures that no artists or artisans ever come in contact with the creation of a mainstream perfume, which is generated instead by a combination of teams of scientists driven by marketing executives and advertising specialists.
That's not to say that it has to be this way. Some designers seem to be able to control the system well enough to demand a level of artistry in their scents that the rest don't get (Tom Ford comes to mind as an example).