While it’s understandable that many investors are nervous about China’s  prospects, the reality is that the world’s second largest economy is on the cusp of a consumer boom. China is already a major consumer of a wide range of goods, but with it transitioning towards a more consumer-focused economy and away a focus on infrastructure spending, consumer goods companies could be a major growth sector for investors.

That’s a key reason why alcoholic beverages company Diageo (LSE: DGE) is an appealing buy now. It has considerable exposure to two key growth markets; China and India, which could propel its top and bottom lines higher in future years. And with Diageo having already built up a high degree of brand loyalty in both markets, it seems to be exceptionally well-positioned to benefit from the increasing wealth of their populations.

Diageo also offers a high degree of diversity as it has exposure to other growth markets across South America and Africa and this means that it offers a relatively high degree of resilience. And with Diageo also having a wide range of brands in an array of product categories, it appears to offer an excellent mix of defensive attributes as well as superb long-term growth prospects.

Shares under pressure?

Also having the potential to help you retire early is personal care company Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB). It seems to be benefitting from its recent restructuring, with Indivior having been spun off and Reckitt Benckiser being able to focus on its core areas of operations. In fact, this has helped it to improve efficiencies and as the company’s recent results showed, it’s performing slightly better than the market had anticipated. As such, its shares have risen by 15% in the last three months.

As with Diageo, Reckitt Benckiser is set to benefit from increased demand from the emerging world, although this anticipated growth in profitability may seem to be priced in. That’s because Reckitt Benckiser has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 24.3, which is historically relatively high. And with the company’s bottom line due to rise by just 3% this year, its shares could come under a degree of pressure in the short run. However, with 9% earnings growth pencilled-in for next year and the aforementioned potential in emerging markets, Reckitt Benckiser seems to be a sound long-term buy.

Short-term disappointment?

Meanwhile, PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC) continues to endure a challenging period, with its key market of Nigeria experiencing a tough economic outlook. As a result, PZ Cussons’ share price has fallen by 30% in the last three years and there could be more disappointment in the short run. That’s especially the case since the company is expected to record a fall in its earnings of 5% in the current year that could dampen investor sentiment yet further.

However, for longer-term investors PZ Cussons now appears to offer capital gain potential. Its valuation is far more enticing than it was in the past, with the company’s shares trading on a P/E ratio of 16.1. Furthermore, PZ Cussons is expected to return to growth next year, with its bottom line forecast to rise by 7% and then by 10% in the following year. And with Nigeria and PZ Cussons’ other key markets having excellent long-term growth prospects for consumer goods companies, buying PZ Cussons right now could be a shrewd move.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of PZ Cussons. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo and Reckitt Benckiser. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.