Renaissance refreshes to be less thrift, more modern retailer

The Quebec non-profit refreshes the look of the typical Goodwill store with a focus on sustainability and job-creation.


Renaissance has refreshed its look to be more in line with contemporary retail than the traditional thrift store, and launched a new marketing push showing how unwanted goods can still have purpose by giving Quebec’s economy a shot in the arm.

A member of Goodwill International, Renaissance encourages people to responsibly donate clothing and household items for resale – not just to avoid landfill, but to help reintegrate people into the workforce through jobs in its stores.

Working with Forsman & Bodenfors, Renaissance’s new campaign features TV creative starring a interchanging group of possessions that reflect life’s changes, eventually creating a circle of gently used items to remind viewers that “every time we change, we leave things behind,” and those things can be put to good use and have a major impact on people’s lives. Print collateral, meanwhile, conveys that just because we only actually wear a fraction of the clothes we own, doesn’t mean they can’t have purpose.

“Instead of feeling guilty about the things we aren’t using, we want people to know that giving it to Renaissance will actually create jobs,” says Eva Van den Bulcke, CD at Forsman & Bodenfors.

The new campaign is launching alongside a refreshed look, including a new graphic system to integrate different donation divisions – such as its accessories boutique, clothing thrift store and bookstore – and give more consistency through online and in-person touchpoints.


This includes the letters “RE” inside a circle, a simplified means of conveying the brands mission: “re-use, re-commencement, re-employment and social re-insertion” (“Redonnez vos choses. Redonnez un emploi,” in French).

Van den Bulcke says Renaissance was striving to feel more like an IKEA or Winners. “People want organized and clean experiences in retail,” she says. “The new visual attracts millennials as well, as it’s more contemporary.”

Éric St-Arnaud, CEO of Renaissance, tells strategy that the marketing and new look is meant to remind people where and why to give. But instead of simply stating what it does, Renaissance wanted people to think more broadly about consumer lifestyles.

RE_Print_2_ENUnemployment rates have spiked in Quebec and across Canada since March, but St-Arnaud says Renaissance is still primed for an increase in donations, as people who are still gainfully employed are thinking about scaling back. He says the goal is to remind people of Renaissance during fall cleaning and position it as a way to help improve their local economy, something audiences in Quebec are highly receptive to right now.

TV, St-Arnaud adds, has previously helped the organization grow its annual merchandise donor base, which is linked to its organizational growth: in 2008, it had 200 full time employees, and now it’s at approximately 900. Now that it’s redefined its vision with a new brand identity, St-Arnaud says the goal is to be everywhere in Quebec and to help as many like-minded organizations as possible.

Compared with last year, there is a minor increase in ad spend, St-Arnaud says, reflecting the increase in locations, but also annual giving. In 2019, he says, 1.2 million people donated items, and was trending higher before the pandemic hit and its stores were closed for 10 weeks.