Purpose: An unconscious concern regarding one’s inevitable death, known as mortality salience, may affect consumers’ brand choices in the aftermath of disastrous events, such as earthquakes. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of self-identification with global consumer culture (IDGCC) in global brand purchase intention in response to disasters that heighten mortality salience. The roles of materialism, consumer ethnocentrism, cosmopolitanism and hope in this this process are also explored. Design/methodology/approach: An online experiment was conducted with a large sample of Japanese consumers. Japan was selected because it had recently suffered from a series of devastating earthquakes. Participants’ mortality salience was primed with an earthquake scenario. All measures were adapted from prior research. The authors used structural equation modeling to test the hypotheses and validate the model. Findings: The results reveal that IDGCC is a direct predictor of global brand purchase intention when mortality salience is high. It appears that identifying with global consumer culture and buying global brands enhances self-esteem and reduces anxiety for those with high IDGCC. As predicted, materialism and cosmopolitanism positively influence IDGCC, whereas consumer ethnocentrism does not impede IDGCC. Hope directly and positively affects global brand purchase intention. Research limitations/implications: Some consumers who experience traumatic events may resist mortality salience and experience a heightened sense of global citizenship. Meanwhile, those with lower IDGCC may revert to in-group favoritism, whereas those with higher IDGCC tend to purchase global brands. Using a scenario to simulate the mental state evoked by a disaster limits generalizability. Practical implications: The findings illuminate how firms should modify their international marketing strategies in the face of traumatic global events when targeting consumers with high vs low IDGCC in terms of framing messages about global brands. Additionally, using global brands that emphasize an optimistic outlook may help global marketers capture attention from consumers high in IDGCC. Originality/value: This study is one of the first to address traumatic events and hope, relating these concepts to IDGCC and global brand purchase intention in an international marketing context.