The other day my friend and I went perfume shopping, and as we approached the counter, she said "Oh! I wonder if they have Brittany Spears! What? I like her perfume." She went straight to the celebrity perfumes and did not sniff anything else. On the ride home she kept saying things like "I think I like my Rihanna arm better than I like my Katy Perry arm." Which sort of brought to mind the image of my friend as a zombie ripping off pop stars arms and sampling to see which tastes best. Anyway, I did smell the Rihanna and it smelled... good, but it's too hard for me to separate a fragrance from the person whose name is attached to it, even if he of she has nothing to do with the creation of the perfume.
I think we can be confident that, most of the time, these things are created by a plethora of market researchers. I go back and forth on that too. I believe everyone can appreciate beauty, and there's no reason to think that a panel of ordinary people can't figure out what smells good. In fact, they'll probably come up with something lovely--not a single out of place note. On the other hand, what does that do to art? What is the role of the artist in light of that kind of approach? Not just with fragrance, but with EVERYTHING. Isn't there something lovely about an out of place note, something just a little discordant, something different? I don't want to be a snob, and I don't want to rage against the masses just because they're the masses, but I think we might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater by thinking too much in terms of the bottom line and not enough in terms of artistic expression.